Marland Yarde: Brian Smith defends picking London Irish wing

Marland Yarde of England evades a tackle from Will Genia of Australia

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith has defended the selection of winger Marland Yarde.

Yarde was released by England during the autumn internationals because of a lack of fitness but found himself lining up for his club days later.

The 21-year-old then suffered a ruptured tendon in his hip during the game against Leicester on 23 November ruling him out for 12 to 14 weeks.

"He did have issues through the autumn series," Smith told BBC Berkshire.

"We will never know if that had any bearing on the issue he has currently got.

"You would expect that was possibly the case. But when someone is tearing up stumps in training and they are fit to play then they have to play."

Yarde started England's autumn international against Australia but missed the matches with Argentina and New Zealand, also with a hip problem.

He has two caps for his country, having made his debut against Argentina during the summer tour.

Yarde is to undergo surgery on his injury on Tuesday 3 December, and Smith says the decision to pick him against Leicester was the correct one.

"We monitored Marland's progress and in the training week leading up to the Tigers game he actually clocked his fastest speed ever at the club," added Smith.

"We've got these GPS tracking systems and all indications to us were that he was running freely and in fact was the quickest he's been since we've been recording his running speed. That's two or three seasons.

"He was on fire and it was a gutsy and very brave, heroic defensive play on his part to get back and scramble."

England already have doubts over Leicester duo Geoff Parling, Manu Tuilagi as well as Northampton Saints back Ben Foden going into next year's Six Nations.

Lancaster's side play France at the Stade de France on the opening weekend of the tournament, which begins on 1 February, before facing Scotland a week later.