Eddie Jones hopes to keep emerging England rugby star Marcus Smith away from the ‘distractions’ that he believes have followed Emma Raducanu since her US Open win.
The British teenager followed up a surprise fourth round appearance at Wimbledon earlier in the summer with a famous triumph at the final Grand Slam of the season in New York.
Rising rugby star Smith’s progress has been slightly less explosive, but he made a hugely impressive substitute appearance on Saturday to help pad out England’s 69-3 victory against Tonga at Twickenham.
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It was the 22-year-old Harlequins player’s third cap, and he is pushing for inclusion from the start when England next play against Australia in the Autumn Nations series.
Jones has cautioned that Smith does not get sidelined by events and sponsorships outside of the sport, and retains his focus and noted that Raducanu has not won another tournament since her US Open crown in September.
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“The big thing for good young players is distractions,” Jones explained. “The distractions could be the exposure they get in the media, the praise they get, the criticism they get. There can be groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.
There’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards.
“What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes. All that is a distraction around her. It might not be to that degree with Marcus, but potentially it could be.
“So the guidance we can give him when he’s with us, the guidance that he gets from Harlequins and the guidance he gets from his parents – who I know, fortunately, are very good people – will be important so he can keep his feet on the ground and keep impressing as a rugby player.
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“Marcus is grounded, but they all start out grounded. No-one starts with their feet off the ground or they don’t get in the team and they don’t win a US Open.
“They all start grounded, but there are a flood of distractions which come in, which can make them ungrounded.”
Raducanu, meanwhile, has arrived in Austria ahead of participating in her final tournament of a season which saw her achieve history.
The 18-year-old is in Austria to play in the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, where she will be the top seed and one of the headline acts. She has been handed a first round bye and is expected to play her first match on Tuesday, where she will face one of either two qualifiers.
The British number one, who had never even won an WTA Tour match before winning her first Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows, reached the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open last month.
A good showing at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz would boost Raducanu’s chances of ending 2021 inside the top 20 with thoughts already turning towards January’s Australian Open.
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