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Fin Smith sets sights on England fly-half spot as George Ford ruled out of tour

Fin Smith helped Northampton win the Premiership title on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Fin Smith helped Northampton win the Premiership title on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Fin Smith intends claiming England’s fly-half jersey once he has recovered from Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title celebrations – a prospect that moved a step closer after George Ford was ruled out of the summer tour.

Smith steered Saints to a 25-21 victory over Bath in Saturday’s final at Twickenham and immediately set his sights on the number 10 shirt worn by Ford throughout this year’s Six Nations.

It has since emerged that Ford will not take part in the upcoming Tests against Japan and New Zealand because of a recurrence of the ruptured Achilles he sustained in 2022.

“Following specialist medical advice, and in consultation with George himself, we have decided this is the best course of action,” head coach Steve Borthwick said.

It sets-up a duel between Fin Smith and Marcus Smith for the role of England’s chief conductor, with the first opportunity coming against the Brave Blossoms in Tokyo on June 22.

Fin Smith began the Six Nations on the bench before losing his place to his namesake from Harlequins once he had recovered from a calf injury.

But the Saints ringmaster has produced an impressive club season as demonstrated by claiming the Rugby Players Association’s player of the year award and a Premiership winners medal.

Once the weekend’s festivities that include a bus tour have subsided, the 22-year-old will link up with England.

Borthwick names his squad at lunchtime on Monday and the Saints fly-half said: “We are going to celebrate and then I will slap myself in the face a few times and try and wake up to meet up with the boys in camp on Monday.

“I have spoken to Richard Wigglesworth, the attack coach, and he said ‘we are expecting you to be not in your best state!’ I’m looking forward to linking up with those boys. It’s going to be a great summer.

“During the Six Nations I came off the bench for 10 minutes in Italy and 15 minutes in Scotland and I don’t feel like I have actually made my mark at all on that jersey.

“So that’s the goal – to go into camp on Monday and give it my all. If I make my mark and make the 10 jersey my own, that would be a massive way to end the season. Fingers crossed.

“We have an individual development plan and mine was to win the league with Saints and get an England cap. I have now done both of those things.

Marcus Smith is in contention for England's fly-half jersey
Marcus Smith is in contention for England’s fly-half jersey (David Davies/PA)

“When you play in these games you hope you then put your hand up and get an opportunity.

“I would love to play 10 for England, but being involved in the first thing and winning the final wasn’t bad.”

England will depart for Japan on Wednesday with a squad of around 35 players with Gloucester fly-half Charlie Atkinson expected to complete the trio of travelling playmakers in Ford’s absence.

Beno Obano’s red card for a high tackle against Northampton could end his tour prospects, while his Bath team-mate Ben Spencer will be hoping he did enough at Twickenham to convince Borthwick of his claim.

England must decided whether to take Tom Curry given his comeback from serious hip surgery spans just once replacement appearance for Sale.