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.”