Ali Price has his say on the Marcus Smith and Finn Russell comparisons

Ali Price will not have Finn Russell alongside him this evening when the Lions take on the Stormers - but he could have the next best thing.

Ali Price in try-scoring form for the British & Irish Lions in the opening tour match against the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Marcus Smith has been picked at 10 for the tourists in Cape Town to put the seal on an astonishing few weeks for the young Harlequins fly-half.

Smith, who won his first England cap against the USA only two weeks ago, joined up with Warren Gatland’s squad on Monday after Russell sustained a torn Achilles.

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Price sees similarities in the spontaneous way in which the two stand-offs play and the Scotland scrum-half is looking forward to linking up with the 22-year-old.

Marcus Smith will make his Lions debut against the Stormers in Cape Town. Picture: Steve Haag/PA Wire

“He’s fitted in really well, to be honest,” said Price, who hopes to use the match to prove his Test credentials.

“He’s had a couple of sessions and I’ve been really impressed with him in terms of the questions he’s asked and how vocal he’s been. He’s clearly soaking up the information and as a young lad coming into this environment, it is important as a 10 to drive the attack of the team and I feel like he’s come in, picked up how we want to play and taken us through the plays. So, very impressed.”

Price and Russell build up superb partnership with first Glasgow Warriors and then Scotland and the scrum-half can see why Smith has been brought in to deputise for his injured friend.

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“Watching the pair of them play, they are very off-the-cuff, they love to run with ball in hand and create opportunities,” said Price. “They’ve got tricks and are not afraid to try things.

“I’ve not played a match with Marcus, but in terms of his instinct and getting a feel for how he plays, I feel like we can grow into that during the game on Saturday.

“But, yeah, when you watch them play, I think you’d agree that his and Finn’s styles are fairly similar in terms of how they try to approach the game.”

Price knows the Stormers match is his last opportunity to convince coach Warren Gatland he is worthy of a place in his Test team to face South Africa next weekend and he will try to play his natural game.

“For me as a nine, I’ll just try to do my job to the best of my ability,” said Price. “The basics are massive, especially in Test matches against tough opposition, so that’s box-kicking, distribution, organisation and chat around my defensive role.

“Those are the qualities that head coaches are going to look for going into a Test series, and the first Test especially. If I can bring all that on Saturday then I’ll put myself in the window to hopefully be selected.

“Every game you get an opportunity is a trial, essentially. You want to put your best foot forward to be in the mix.

“I think this is slightly different as well in that there is a whole week between this week and the first Test, so there is a normal week’s training ahead of us. It is another opportunity for the boys, and I don’t think the door is closed for anyone. We, as players, need to go out there and make Warren’s job as difficult as possible in terms of selection decisions.”

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