Monday 23 October 2017

Smith gets the chance to sign off with Wallabies on high

Gavin Mairs

George Smith, who starred against the Lions in Australia's 2-1 series victory in 2001, is set for an emotional farewell to his international career by being included in the Wallabies' squad to face Warren Gatland's side in the final Test on Saturday.

Smith, who made his Test debut in 2000 against France and won 110 caps for Australia before retiring from international rugby in February 2010, is expected to be named in Robbie Deans' 23-man squad, most likely as a replacement for Liam Gill on the bench.

Smith was given special dispensation to return to the Brumbies after playing for four seasons with the Suntory Sungoliath in Japan so that he could be available for selection after David Pocock was ruled out of the Lions series because of injury.

The 32-year-old Smith was not considered for the first two Tests after a knee injury ruled him out of the Wallabies' pre-series training camp.

Deans, however, has declared that Smith, who in his pomp was the world's outstanding openside flanker, was fit for selection. He is expected to win his 111th cap on Saturday.

"He has a week of training under his belt. He has some background with us and he is physically fit enough to be considered," said Deans.

Australia captain James Horwill backed Smith to hit the ground running on Saturday if he is selected for what will definitely be his last appearance on the international stage.

"His record speaks for itself," said Horwill. "He's one of the freakiest players you would get the chance to play with. I guess people doubted his ability to come back and play Super Rugby as well as he did and he proved those people wrong."

Horwill, asked if he would like to have Smith on the field on Saturday, said the Wallabies had the luxury of "three incredibly talented No 7s".

"Michael Hooper played exceptionally last weekend and 'Gilly', when he came on, made a real difference at the breakdown," added Horwill.

"Towards the end, when he grabbed the spilt line-out pill off the Lions, that was a piece of freakish skill I don't think a lot of guys would have been able to do."

The only other possible change to the Wallabies is the recall of playmaker Berrick Barnes to the bench in place of Jesse Mogg. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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