Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia has dismissed fears George Smith has been rushed back too quickly from injury for Saturday night’s blockbuster Lions clash at ANZ Stadium.
Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has labelled Smith’s selection for the series-deciding third Test against the British and Irish Lions as a risk due to the 110-Test veteran’s six weeks on the sidelines.
But Genia said Smith had shown he was completely recovered from his knee ligament strain and would give the Wallabies a major boost in what he expects to be the toughest of the three Tests.
“George is a freak,” the world-class halfback said. “He has come back earlier than expected and looks in great shape.
“He’s running around like he’s 21, he’s got great enthusiasm, great respect from the guys and great respect from people in the game.
“He offers us so much with his experience and his ability at the breakdown.
“For me, personally he has an aura about him and to have him in your side means a lot and it definitely gives me a lift coming into the third Test.”
Young No.7 Michael Hooper has made way for Smith in Australia’s starting side while fellow young gun Liam Gill has dropped off the bench.
Genia also brushed off fears his own knee problem would be an issue on Saturday night.
The Queensland Reds star copped a knock in the 23-21 first Test loss and was hampered in the lead up to the second Test but produced a man-of-the-match display in the 16-15 win in Melbourne.
“(The rest and treatment) has all paid off and I haven’t had any issues all week this week.”
A sell-out crowd of more than 80,000 is expected at ANZ Stadium.