Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith is the latest wonderkid to make his England bow, and has now been called up to the British & irish Lions.
However, along with massive hype comes massive pressure and while some rugby stars embrace the attention, others simply fade away into mediocrity.
Sometimes injuries or psychological issues cause a player’s career to take a nosedive but at other times it is simply a matter of media and fans vastly overestimating his abilities or potential.
Judging by the names who appear on this list of much-talked-about rugby players who failed to succeed at a level that was expected of them, being English often comes with an extra dose of hype.
#5. Matthew Tait
- Caps: 36
- Position: Fullback, Winger, Centre
Making his debut against Wales, when the then-18-year-old was repeatedly dumped by Welsh centre Gavin Henson is infamous. That day would set back Tait’s development significantly, but he still played in the Rugby World Cup in 2007. After a quiet tournament, Tait lit up the final against South Africa with a dashing break that led to Mark Cueto’s infamously disallowed try.
But if Tait’s footwork in the final demonstrated his talent, he was never able to demonstrate that consistently on the biggest stage. Shifts from outside centre, to wing and then to full-back stunted his progress and were indicative of a possible star whose versatility worked against him ultimately.