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Smith not needed as a Lion rugby tamer

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    George Smith’s return to the Brumbies might be good for Australian rugby, but it seems there’s no longer room for the star No.7 at the Wallabies.

    The 110-Test veteran said last week he’d have to consider making a comeback to face the might of the British and Irish Lions in June and July if approached by the Australian Rugby Union.

    That’s despite signing only a short-term contract to take him through to the end of the Super Rugby season before a return to Japan.

    However, national coach Robbie Deans made it clear on Thursday that Smith is not in his plans for openside flanker, with David Pocock the clear first choice ahead of up-and-coming stars Michael Hooper and Liam Gill.

    Deans doesn’t begrudge Smith for leaving Australia in 2010 and wouldn’t run the line through the 32-year-old, but said he’d prefer to concentrate on “realities”.

    “It’s obviously a short-term contract so there’s no point in second guessing. He’s not a possibility for us right now,” Deans said.

    “Hopefully we won’t need to (investigate his availability further) … I’d rather chase realities.”

    But Deans is excited about the knock-on effect his presence at the Brumbies might have on Pocock.

    The coach remembers fondly 2009 against Wales in Cardiff, where Pocock and Smith combined to deliver Australia an emphatic 33-12 victory.

    Smith plays his first match from the bench against the Waratahs on Saturday, meaning Pocock could have less time on the field and keep relatively fresh.

    “It will give David some respite and not worry about if he gets pulled because he knows he’s got someone capable of filling the void if he leaves the ground,” Deans said.

    “I’ve got no doubt you’ll see them driving each other.”

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    The Crowd Says (39)

    • March 8th 2013 @ 5:08am
      mania said | March 8th 2013 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      shame, wouldve loved to have seen gSmith back in gold

      • March 8th 2013 @ 8:01am
        Simon_Sez said | March 8th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Mania, I too would like to see Smith back in gold. You can never say never about George Smith, let’s see how he goes over the next month. Smith brings experience as well as talent, a combination that may be required if the Wallabies are getting smashed by the Lions. Robbie Deans is spoilt for choice at No.7; I wish Australia had this nice problem in every position. I believe the ARU could create this problem if it got its act together, but currently it only seems capable of making simple decisions complicated.

        • March 8th 2013 @ 8:20am
          mania said | March 8th 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          yeah agree simon – guess i’m just a romantic.
          but smiths value as a mentor is priceless

          • March 8th 2013 @ 8:23am
            Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 8:23am | ! Report

            If his form warrants it he’d be pretty handy on the bench, covering the entire backrow.

    • March 8th 2013 @ 6:10am
      ANON69 said | March 8th 2013 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      Deans is not a Smith Fan anyway

      • March 8th 2013 @ 6:23am
        kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 6:23am | ! Report

        ANON69 that’s absurdly untrue. He selected him for years before Smith’s form failed and Pocock surpassed him.

        • March 8th 2013 @ 8:19am
          Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 8:19am | ! Report

          Years?

          • March 8th 2013 @ 9:03am
            kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report

            Yes, years. Not weeks, nor months, but years.

            • March 8th 2013 @ 10:18am
              Rob said | March 8th 2013 @ 10:18am | ! Report

              This is all a fantasy. Smith was once a great, but was comprehensively overtaken by pocock in the pecking order 3 years ago. Now we have 2 other number 7s who many are saying are better than pocock yet you want to bring in a guy in his 30s who’s been playing in a schoolboy league. Why don’t we bring back mark Ella and John eales while we are at it. They won’t get selected because obviously Robbie deans was never an Ella fan.

            • March 8th 2013 @ 11:30am
              Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              OK I’ll give you plural – 2 years. Amazing that people are saying that Smith became next to useless over night. He was the Brumbies best in 2008 and retired from tests a year later…

              • March 8th 2013 @ 11:33am
                Markus said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                Brumbies and Wallabies best in 2008. Then the Brumbies best in 2009 and 2010, too.
                The only place Smith’s form disappeared to was Japan.

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:27pm
                Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                thanks for setting the record straight, always struck me as odd that puerile were saying he had become a liability and that Pocock had gone so far pay him etc etc.

              • Columnist

                March 8th 2013 @ 12:36pm
                Brett McKay said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                J2, he’s actually won the Brett Robsinson Medal for the Brumbes player’s player nine times in all, including his final season in 2010..

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:44pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

                A very important last year. He went from being stellar at international level to being average. He was surpassed by Pocock. He had become a much lesser player, unsuprisingly after 100 caps. And that was in 2010. It’s now 2013.

                How he played for the Brumbies is irrelevant to his playing for the Wallabies. His final international season was very average. The decline had suddenly set in.

    • March 8th 2013 @ 6:10am
      Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      Yes a rookie rugby player is a reality, a legend is not…

      • March 8th 2013 @ 11:32am
        Hightackle said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        No a rookie who is here for the year is a possiblity, a retired player, who is contracted overseas and who plays in a position which Aust has unbelievable depth is not at this time.

        • March 8th 2013 @ 12:28pm
          Justin2 said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          as I said above he would be an ideal bench player if his form warrants selection. then again that doesn’t matter much it seems.

    • Columnist

      March 8th 2013 @ 9:48am
      Brett McKay said | March 8th 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      I reckon Deans is handling this the right way. Smth is only here for 12 weeks, is required back in Japan around the time of the Lions series, and has already ruled it out anyway, out of respect for his Japanese employers.

      Deans can’t plan for maybes, not for a Lions series..

      • March 8th 2013 @ 10:25am
        Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Seems absurd that Smith isn’t on the radar but Folau is.

        Ones proven and been there before, the other hasn’t faced anything like it.

        • March 8th 2013 @ 10:41am
          kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

          Smith was pedestrian in his final season three years ago. He’s likely to be sub-pedestrian at international level now. It makes perfect sense to omit him.

          • March 8th 2013 @ 11:55am
            Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            Kurtley Beales been pedestrian for his last two seasons, might as well ship him off as well.

            • March 8th 2013 @ 12:46pm
              kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

              Totally untrue: his last season off-form, but plagued by injury too. The one before that he was great.

              The difference is that Smith had declined through age and probably exhaustion after 100 international caps in the incredibly demanding position of openside flanker. Beale was a form lapse, not a decline with age.

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:49pm
                Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                Kurtley hasn’t been a good test player since 2010. 2011 he was ok 2012 he was poor.

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:51pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                Untrue. Only last season he was out of form.

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:56pm
                Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

                You don’t rate “form” very highly do you

        • March 8th 2013 @ 11:27am
          Hightackle said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          How is that absurd?
          Hooper, Gill and Pocock play 7. Izzy doesnt play 7 and isnt contracted to a Japanese club.
          Smith wouldnt make the squad anyway.

          • March 8th 2013 @ 11:59am
            Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            I would have Gill as my starter Smith on the bench due to his ability of being able to cover all three spots if his form warrents. Hooper doesn’t attack the ball and only stands out when he has his wee runs. During a quiet game he disappares. Pocock offers the ability to attack the ball but nothing else and can’t seem to make the steal if he’s made the tackle unlike Gill. So if he’s not starting then there’s no room on the bench for him.

            I think the only flanker in the professional era to come even close to Richie is Smith. Pocock can only dream of it. Gill on the other hand this kids a talent. He will be eclipse Pocock before too long and he has the potential to be better that McCaw.

        • Columnist

          March 8th 2013 @ 11:40am
          Brett McKay said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          It’s not Kane, really. Folau will be here in July, for one thing. That puts him on the radar ahead of Smith for obvious reasons…

          • March 8th 2013 @ 12:04pm
            Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            Smith will be here in July if needed, and if he is the last game is on July 6th. It’s not like you need him for the whole month just six days.. They allowed SBW to play for the All Blacks I’m sure they would allow Smith a chance to play for the Wallabies. It would be a huge marketing buzz for Suntory.

            • Columnist

              March 8th 2013 @ 12:11pm
              Brett McKay said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              Not if Suntory want him back in Japan, he won’t be..

              • March 8th 2013 @ 12:48pm
                Kane said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                First game 31st of August long time inbetween

              • March 10th 2013 @ 8:29am
                Crockycrocky said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:29am | ! Report

                First game mightn’t be til then but apparently to play in the season he needs to be registered/signed/contracted by July 1.

            • March 8th 2013 @ 1:01pm
              ohtani's jacket said | March 8th 2013 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

              People in Japan wouldn’t care that a Suntory player is playing for Australia against the Lions. Rugby is barely marketed in Japan, most people don’t know that Australia even play rugby and the Lions concept is meaningless to the general populace.

      • Roar Guru

        March 10th 2013 @ 1:03pm
        Kane said | March 10th 2013 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        I sure as hell hope that he’s on his radar now and Folau’s off it

    • March 8th 2013 @ 10:06am
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | March 8th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Yes Brett, on this score I agree with Deans (don’t all fall over in amazement) reality is that Deans has three very good open side flankers who can all match it with the best in the world, they are young and in their prime.

      We are getting caught up in the hype again that the media produces, Smith was a great player before he went overseas, he IMO had dropped off just that little bit and I thought it was the right decision for him at the time as he would have been struggling to make the Wallabies side.

      Smith hasn’t even played one minute of rugby on Aus soil in the past three years (I think) and we are already rating him up there with the best that we have.

      The fact of the matter is that his star was waning before he left and although he has kept on playing he has not played here in Super Rugby, for the last two years he has played in Japan and in reality that competition is not as strong by far as the Super rugby competition.

      So spare me the rantings of how his is in the mix for the Lions tour.

      At least until he has played a game or two to see if he actually has retained any of his magic

    • March 8th 2013 @ 12:10pm
      cantab said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

      Fair call,

      though…if he plays well enough i’m sure he will find himself on the radar

      … injuries to either Pocock or Hooper will also change things.

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