Lions series is a big lure, admits Smith

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Guru

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    George Smith was in Canberra on Friday sounding like an ambitious politician. While he was playing down speculation that he’s eyeing higher honours, he certainly didn’t rule it out.

    Since Smith announced on Monday he was returning to Super Rugby with the Brumbies on a short-term deal, there’s been talk the 32-year-old might also make himself available for the Wallabies.

    With a hugely anticipated three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions starting in June, Smith admitted the chance to add to his 110-Test career is “enticing” despite retiring from international rugby three years ago.

    But first, he accepts he needs to prove he can still handle the pace at provincial level after being released by his Japanese club Suntory.

    “I retired in 2009 and nothing’s changed at this stage,” said Smith after his first training run with the Brumbies.

    “Out of respect for the Brumbies and Suntory, my focus is to play for the Brumbies.

    “I’m not going to lie. It is enticing. But I think it’s premature as I’ve got to perform for the Brumbies first to even be thinking of that.”

    Smith faces a difficult task to get a start in the back row at the Brumbies, where the openside flanker played 128 games between 2000-2010.

    Wallabies No.7 David Pocock, captain Ben Mowen at No.8 and blindside flanker and key lineout target Peter Kimlin form a formidable combination that has been crucial to their two wins to start the season.

    But the versatile Smith says he feels in good physical shape to fight for a starting berth as early as next Saturday’s home clash with the Waratahs following this round’s bye.

    “I don’t want to be a passenger here,” he said.

    “I haven’t been in the challenger’s role for a long time. It’s something I’ll relish and I think I’ll rise to that challenge.”

    Brumbies coach Jake White says Smith will be encouraged to help improve Pocock’s attacking game while being excited about having the luxury to rotate players in his forward pack.

    “It just depends on how we see the combinations working,” said White.

    “It’s fantastic to have George being able to play all three back-row positions.

    “It’s a wonderful place to be now. I want everyone to be pushing for their place because it creates competition and, with competition, comes success.”

    But while Brumbies fans can hope Smith plays a big part in helping them to the top of the Australian Conference, they shouldn’t expect him to definitely be available for any Super Rugby finals as they seek their first title since 2004.

    “This is a three-month gig and that’s it,” he said.

    “I’m contracted to Suntory Sungoliath for next season. I’m very happy there at the moment and they’ve treated me and my family with a lot of respect.

    “I’m going back around July. I’ve got an important golf day with the boss. So I’ve got to be there.”

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • March 2nd 2013 @ 3:38am
      Johnno said | March 2nd 2013 @ 3:38am | ! Report

      Apparantly the ARU, Bill Pulver saying, are not 100% agreeing to give George Smith a contract. Remember George Smith is an overseas player, he would be getting picked for the Wallabies, being based and contracted to an overseas club.

      -I hep the ARU can see the bigger picture, and see it as an exceptional case.

      -Far different to say Matt Gitau, playing. George Smith 110 tests, world cup finalists, player of the 2001 Lion’s series, and a chance to be the only Wallaby to play in back to back series ove the 12 years, I hope they make an exception.

      Alan Langer style 2001 for QLD origin game 3.

      -It’s a one off George Smith would be done after the Lion’s series, I hope the ARU make an exception to i think defiantly the top 10, arguably the top 5 if not the 1 player for OZ rugby in the last 40 years.


      • March 2nd 2013 @ 5:02am
        Lloyd said | March 2nd 2013 @ 5:02am | ! Report

        I loved george Smith but I think it would be well tight for him to get a spot over gill or hooper for the lions during a3 month jaunt back here. its not right for the young guys who are the future , that’s the bigger picture imo.also gives the green light for guys to head overseas.its the strongest position depthwise in the team.let’s enjoy him in super rugby and be grateful for that.

        • March 2nd 2013 @ 5:20am
          Johnno said | March 2nd 2013 @ 5:20am | ! Report

          Smith is more of a no 6 or no 8 , these days anyway.

          and the bigger picture thing, i said exceptional circumstances, . Like the Alan Langer situation in 2001, . George Smith fits the same category, been gone for a long time, this was not pre planned, nor was the Alan Langer situation,.

          Exceptional player young players should see and admire, the veteran that George Smith is now,and a chance to be the only player ever to play in 2 lions series for Australia. And one of our all time greats, he deserves special dispensation, unplanned and exceptional circumstances like Alan Langer thing.

          If Matt Giteau wanted to be picked for Lion’s I’d say no, or Luke Burgess unless he quits Toulon, or Mark Gerrard, but George Smith one of all time greats 110 test matches, player of the lions series 2001, world cup finalists 2003, deserves special dispensation and this 1 off opportunity, thinking in the bigger picture. Lions series massive for Australian rugby, George Smith has earned the right to be part of it , even if it’s exceptional circumstances and dispensation. As long as he is still good enough pick him, the bigger picture he deserves it, and be great boost for game and appeal , and macerating, have the wallaby here of the lions series 2001, make a comeback for one last series.

          • March 2nd 2013 @ 10:01am
            Lloyd said | March 2nd 2013 @ 10:01am | ! Report

            He’d be a7 playing 6 or level in Japan or France isn’t the same thing It’d be back to 2 7s.doesn’t feel right to me.what if Gill missed selection turned into the best thing we ever had and never got to play the lions because george deserved a special dispensation.if he was staying on it would make some difference. in the end it should be what is right for the team not what’s right for George. I was a7.loved watching him.glorious memory of v Wales a few years back pocock having that storming game with an unbelievable no of steals plus that ripping try.then George coming on and just continually taking Welch was so sweet.
            Anyway won’t be up to me and we Gotta see him play yet.

    • March 2nd 2013 @ 8:43am
      richard said | March 2nd 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Smith is the best openside Australia has ever had IMHO.Loved the battles he had with McCaw, even outplayed him on occasion.

      Good to see him back,probably wouldn’t get a starting spot v the Lions,but if he shows some form,maybe a place in the reserves.Experience like Smith’s is invaluable at this level,and with the squad the Lions are going to be stumping up with,you are going to need any edge you can get.

    • March 2nd 2013 @ 1:48pm
      Hightackle said | March 2nd 2013 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

      I dont think he will play the Lions but he may be amazing for the Brumbies and secure a spot.

    • March 3rd 2013 @ 10:03am
      Worlds biggest said | March 3rd 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      It’s fantastic he is back playing for the Brumbies, one of my favourite all time players. In saying that I can’t see him featuring in the Lions series save for a raft of injuries. The one position Oz rugby has good depth is openside. If injuries hit would love to see him there otherwise it’s the young Turks time now. I’ll always maintain he would have made a big difference at the 2011 World Cup if he was available.

      • March 3rd 2013 @ 4:47pm
        Hightackle said | March 3rd 2013 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        No apparently he wouldnt have becuz Deans was employing a no try, conservative, non passing, non running gameplan.
        The stats say the opposite but who cares about the truth. Never let the truth ruin a good dose of bias, emotional, unreasonable, erational hate.
        The Wallabies were one of the highest try scoring, highest passing, highest running and lowest kicking teams in the WC.
        Ive been told that only 2 of the 7 games of the WC count though. Pffft.

    • March 4th 2013 @ 11:08am
      Roscoe said | March 4th 2013 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      Pocock away for 3 weeks (?) prior to Lions Test for Deans “love in” so Smith steps in! How many other teams have that sort of coverage?! Don’t worry/speculate about Smith playing Tests. White master stroke for Lions coverage. Brumbies all the way!

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