England duo Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola have impressed John Smit
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 21/11/12 12:10pm
John Smit: Believes Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell can shine
World Cup-winning captain John Smit has tipped his Saracens team-mates Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell to have bright futures for England.
Vunipola and Farrell are likely to be named among the replacements for Saturday's QBE International against South Africa - however Smit has been impressed with what he has seen so far from the duo.
The 34-year-old has worked closely with fellow front-rower Vunipola since joining Saracens from the Sharks after the 2011 World Cup, while Farrell has caught the eye marshalling the backs.
And Smit, who lifted the Webb Ellis trophy for the Springboks in 2007 as part of a distinguished career, is full of praise for the duo.
"I think I know more about the England players now from my time at Sarries and playing against the clubs here," Smit told Sky Sports.
"Mako Vunipola is an exciting inclusion for England, he is an exciting player. I have watched how hard he has worked to get to this stage. He looks like he could be a real talent.
"Owen Farrell has got everything. He has a brilliant quality about him. He has great hands, he can kick beautifully and he is solid in defence."
Farrell and Vunipola are two of the bright young stars who have been blooded by England since Stuart Lancaster took over the reins.
And Smit believes that there England and South Africa - who now have former Leicester and Bulls boss Heyneke Meyer at the helm - are on parallel paths.
"Both squads are in a similar situation," Smit said. "They both have new coaches that are building young squads with a view to the future. They are gaining valuable experience all the time and both have huge potential and have showed signs of improvements.
"I think both teams have squads that can develop towards the World Cup but they will have to start to deliver results.
"I can see from the England squad that they have got some good players who are working hard. They have a belief in their coach and what he is trying to do and that is crucial."
The two squads will already know plenty about one another after clashing during a thrilling three-Test series in the summer.
The Boks took the honours 22-17 and 36-27 in the first two Tests, while England restored some honour by drawing the final encounter 14-14.
And Smit is expecting England to be encouraged by their performances in those matches.
"I do see it being close again on Saturday," Smit added. "England will take confidence from their draw in Port Elizabeth and will be looking to build on that at home."
John Smit was speaking at the launch of the QBE Internationals. QBE, the business insurance specialist, is proud to sponsor the QBE Internationals and be Official Insurance Partner of England Rugby. For more information visit www.QBERugby.com