George Smith’s future in doubt after back injury



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    Wallaby great George Smith’s playing future is in doubt as he battles a potentially career-threatening back injury.

    New Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says Smith has returned to Australia to source different medical opinions after the champion flanker hurt himself playing in Japan.

    “He’s just getting it checked out at the moment. I guess he’s just getting a few opinions, which is a smart thing to do,” Thorn said on Wednesday.

    “We’ll soon find out more about that and he’s a real valued guy and hopefully there’s a good result there.”

    Thorn remains hopeful the 111-Test flanker won’t have to hang up his boots and will feature for the Reds during the 2018 Super Rugby season.

    But, turning 38 next July, Smith can’t be far from drawing the curtain on his grand career.

    “Who knows? He might want to play a bit more. He’s just trying to look at those opinions and he’s keen to play footy,” Thorn said at the unveiling his 36-man playing squad for next year.

    “I don’t think he’s thinking about that sort of thing (retirement) at the moment so I feel hopeful that he’ll be OK.”

    Concern over Smith’s availability comes a week after the Reds’ veteran former Wallabies captain and hooker Stephen Moore announced he’d opted out of playing on for one more Super Rugby season.

    But with the likes of Quade Cooper, Scott Higginbotham, James Slipper and Samu Kerevi on his roster, Thorn won’t lack leaders if Smith pulls the pin.

    Queensland also possess depth in the back row, albeit not in the same class as their champion No.7, with Smith including 12 loose forwards in his 2018 squad.

    Former Wallabies winger Paul Carozza and ex-Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan have been named as two of Thorn’s assistants as the retired All Black makes his coaching debut in Super Rugby.

    Queensland Reds 2018 squad

    Forwards: Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hoopert, James Slipper, JP Smith, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, George Smith, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright.

    Backs: Nick Frisby, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Quade Cooper, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Karmichael Hunt, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • November 30th 2017 @ 7:48am
      Adsa said | November 30th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Time to retire George, start coaching for Qld and help hone Gunns skills.

    • November 30th 2017 @ 9:29am
      bert said | November 30th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Whatever happens, congratulations, George, on a stellar career.

      • November 30th 2017 @ 11:31am
        PiratesRugby said | November 30th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        George Smith is a better 7 than Michael Hooper. Even with a bad back.

        • November 30th 2017 @ 3:29pm
          JP said | November 30th 2017 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

          Too right !!

        • November 30th 2017 @ 11:34pm
          Rebellion said | November 30th 2017 @ 11:34pm | ! Report

          George Smith seems like a genuine lovely bloke of true character

          I don’t think anyone would have used those words to describe Michael Hooper

          • December 1st 2017 @ 9:31am
            The Phantom said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            Wow – such hate… Do you know Michael Hooper???

            What in the water on the Northern Beaches? Smith, Phil Waugh and Hooper all hail from there…

            • December 2nd 2017 @ 9:59pm
              PiratesRugby said | December 2nd 2017 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

              Hmm let’s see… is that the Michael Hooper who is the most yellow carded player in the world? The 7 who can’t play 7? The one who undermined Link in favour of Beale? The one who is captaining Australia thorough loss after disappointing loss? The one who keeps the best 7 in the world out of the Wallabies 7 jersey? The one who demeans the captaincy through petulant antics? Nah, don’t know him.

            • December 3rd 2017 @ 8:21pm
              terrence said | December 3rd 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

              Salt is in the water in gods country there The Phantom. The good of the ocean, son, the good of the ocean…

    • November 30th 2017 @ 10:04am
      Dave_S said | November 30th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      As much as I want him play on, I’d hate to see him go one serious injury too far. Fortunately Thorn will likely give him some very sensible guidance.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 1:53am
        Rhys Bosley said | December 1st 2017 @ 1:53am | ! Report

        Yeah, living with a bad back for the rest of his life would be a big price to pay for one or two more seasons of footy.

    • Roar Guru

      November 30th 2017 @ 10:43am
      DaniE said | November 30th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      Hmm I can see him deciding to retire from pro rugby and then joining a veteran’s team. Vet’s of QLD will need to beware!

      • November 30th 2017 @ 11:55pm
        Dan in Devon said | November 30th 2017 @ 11:55pm | ! Report

        That boy has got a big future! Mark him down for the rugby World Cup!

    • November 30th 2017 @ 10:54am
      Crash Ball2 said | November 30th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      Let’s hope Queensland’s best player and reigning 2017 Stan Pilecki medalist is able to go out on whatever terms he chooses. If it’s not to be on the playing field, please, please God let it be dispensing some of that once-in-a-generation IP to the next batch of Australian backrowers. ‘Cause despite the naysayers, at 300-odd years old, you still have it:

      – Topped Reds forced turnovers
      – Topped the tackle count
      – Topped the dominant tackles
      – Topped the tackle success percentage %
      – Most forward offloads (2nd for the team)
      – Most forward ball carries (2nd for the team)
      – Most forward line breaks
      – 2nd highest forward metres made
      – 2nd highest forward tackle breaks

      • December 1st 2017 @ 9:13am
        Train Without A Station said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Topped the penalties too unfortunately.

        • Roar Guru

          December 1st 2017 @ 9:30am
          Fionn said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Kiwi sides topped all of the penalty counts; Jake White’s Brumbies also excelled at cynical penalties.

          A penalty isn’t always bad. Often is is an intentional pressure release as opposed to the result of pressure.

          Seeing Smith completely outplay Hooper in the Reds-Waratahs match was like a return to 2009, or even 2013.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 1st 2017 @ 9:53am
            Paul D said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            Memory is a funny thing. Completely outplay? It was a tight battle and neither Smith nor Hooper outplayed the other. Both had good games.

            Both had 4 turnovers. Smith more tackles but Hooper more run metres and a try. In fact I think his try was off the lineout from one of his turnovers.

            Penalties may not always be bad, but it was penalties that cost the Reds in the end, And George had 2 while Hooper had a clean sheet. So in fact that when you look at turnovers won per penalty given. Hooper is out in front there.

            Smith also knocked on near the end of the game that resulted in 3 points following a scrum penalty.

            • Roar Guru

              December 1st 2017 @ 12:41pm
              Fionn said | December 1st 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              No, not really. Smith completely outplayed him in every faced in the first half and the second half was pretty even.

              Let’s be honest, Paul, the refereeing in that game was a joke – the count was like 16 or 17 to like 4, and the ref rightly came under a lot of scrutiny after that game. So I would not be using penalties against Smith and lack of penalties against Hooper from that particularly good as indicative of very much.

              • December 1st 2017 @ 1:29pm
                Crash Ball2 said | December 1st 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Yep, George Smith put on an old school openside flanking master class in the Tahs/Reds match this season. It was a joy to watch.

          • December 1st 2017 @ 9:56am
            Tylorman said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

            In rugby the best sides should top the penalty counts. Rugby laws are more open to interpretation than any other sport and as such it is up to each side to push those very interpretations to the max.

            Any professional coach should be very concerned if their side is on the lighter side of the penalty count in the comp, for it likely means that its failed to test every opportunity. Nice guys dont win rugby tournaments, smart teams do, from a laws context.

            • December 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am
              Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              Mmmm…Tman, you may be revealing a bit more than you intend there.
              I get the ‘pushing the boundary’ logic here but where is the line between that and a policy of cynical infringing, in fact daring the ref to go to his pocket?

        • December 1st 2017 @ 12:11pm
          Crash Ball2 said | December 1st 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          Must be the indicator of a quality openside given Hooper was the most penalised player across the recent Northern tour and now holds the dubious distinction of more yellow cards than any international player in test match history with no where near the most matches.

          None the less. Your singular statistic doesn’t dull the achievement and quality of Queensland’s award winning, best player for season 2017 and much like he has been doing for his entire career, Smith just kept fronting up game after game. Bravo GS.

    • November 30th 2017 @ 11:56am
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | November 30th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

      Great player but he needs to look to his future, as the body ages you sustain more injuries. It would be sad to see him sustain a serious injury attempting to play just one more season.

      I’m sure he will make the correct decision in consultation with Thorne.

      And congratulations to Paul Carozza who I knew at Wests, he will be an outstanding success at this level as he has in the past.

      A very talented player right from when he was a junior to when he retired and then as a coach. Great guy to talk to and have a beer or three