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Smith puts pressure on Brumbies

George Smith, playing for the Brumbies in 2008.

George Smith, playing for the Brumbies in 2008. Photo: Getty Images

In signing club great George Smith, the ACT Brumbies have pulled off a massive coup and recruited a player so good he'll keep ''David Pocock on his toes''.

Former Brumbies captain Owen Finegan rated the 32-year-old as the ''best forward I've ever played with'', stating Smith could fit into the Brumbies side tomorrow, let alone in their next game - against the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium on March 9.

Most pundits thought the Brumbies had landed one of the biggest fish in Super Rugby history when they signed Pocock from the Western Force last year.

Pocock is widely regarded as one of the best openside flankers in international rugby.

But that was the title Smith held before he left the Brumbies at the end of 2010 to play in France and Japan, stepping down from the Wallabies in the process.

Smith has two Super Rugby crowns, two John Eales Medals, four consecutive Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year awards and eight Brett Robinson Player's Player Awards.

Now Brumbies coach Jake White has brought the pair together and Finegan expected Smith to push Pocock.

''You've got someone like George Smith sitting on your bench and it keeps Peter Kimlin, Ben Mowen and David Pocock on his toes,'' Finegan told Fairfax Media.

''It gives you the opportunity to give David Pocock some time on the bench and manage his workload as well.

''George Smith could fit in tomorrow, he's just a natural rugby player … he's the best forward that I've ever played with.''

Finegan captained the Brumbies to their last Super Rugby championship in 2004, playing alongside Smith in the back row.

Smith left Canberra at the end of 2010 to play in France, but will return on a three-month contract courtesy of his Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath. He's expected to return to Suntory for pre-season training in June.

With Pocock at No.7 and captain Ben Mowen at No.8, Finegan thought blindside flanker was the logical spot for Smith to play.

''Pocock's obviously an automatic pick, it's not too often you're going to play games without your captain, so it's probably Peter Kimlin who's got the most pressure on him and that's a healthy thing for him,'' Finegan said.

''It's competition and he's played well in the first couple of games, but it will keep them all on their toes.''

When back-rower Ita Vaea was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition, White started looking for a replacement.

A chat to his mate Eddie Jones, a former Brumbies and Suntory coach, revealed Smith could be available.

''He's been around the block, all the information he's learnt - the better it's going to be for everybody,'' White said. ''I can see him helping David Pocock with his running lines, [Smith] is probably the greatest openside flanker Australia's ever had, so to have him coming into our group and working with David Pocock is also fantastic.''

Brumbies skipper Mowen didn't rule out making way in the starting line-up to allow Smith to take over the No.8 jersey.

''If he comes in and takes that spot, that's good, because he's a quality guy … and his playing standards speak for themselves,'' Mowen said.

''We're very upfront with the way team selection's done at the Brumbies - it's the best guy gets the spot, irrelevant of anything else.

Smith will start training with the Brumbies next week.

13 comments

  • This season just gets more and more exciting, the good times are back

    Commenter
    Jitterry
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 1:08PM
    • Wasn't there talk of Steve Larkham pulling the boots back on again last season when the Brumbies were in a bind? They should try and get him and GG back in the squad too!

      Commenter
      Paywall
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 2:11PM
    • Campo should be offered a contract on a "last 5 minute run-on" deal basis. Wouldn't that be a crowd pulller knowing he had to be put on for the last 5 minutes??? 70 metre burst of goose steps, feints and shimmies to score under the posts OR dropping it behind his goal line to concede a try. Plus his post-match interview would be worth staying for. Who else? Knoxxie?

      Commenter
      Crampo
      Location
      The Coffee Shop
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 4:52PM
  • George should never have been treated the way he was by Deans. He was an enormous loss to Australia and the Brumbies. How do you contest a world cup with one (UNFIT) open-side flanker? And George sitting it out........?

    Welcome back George you are truly a Brumbies favourite and well deserved. Congratulations on the birth of your latest child, now rip NSW a new one!!!

    Commenter
    Hammer
    Location
    Austrlia
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 1:51PM
    • Too right Hammer! How about we send Deans to Japan & keep George...maybe Guits is worth a look in again also! Smith was another victim of Deans' toxic coaching style & we all paid the price.
      Welcome back George, we all missed you!!!! Deans...Tokyo looks nice...

      Commenter
      Deansgo
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 4:27PM
    • Deansgo (I like the name) you are spot on. Gits was no doubt out of form but instead of working his way back he was ousted. He has been playing very well at Toulon and could have been a very valuable player over the last 4 years.

      Commenter
      Shop
      Location
      Argentina
      Date and time
      February 26, 2013, 3:35AM
  • Bring Back the Duke. I'd like to see him given a 10 minute cameo towards the end of each game where his unique talents can be put to use

    Commenter
    Ex Canberra Boy
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 1:59PM
    • Why not David Campese?? Or Harolt Holt..... surely there must be a kid out there that could offer more??

      Commenter
      Shogunmatty
      Location
      Reality
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 3:08PM
      • Stick to league Shogunmatty, there's less thinking involved & more room for clowns.

        Commenter
        Leaguie?
        Date and time
        February 25, 2013, 4:28PM
      • Agree Leaguie?...too funny!

        Commenter
        No more mungos
        Location
        Manly
        Date and time
        February 25, 2013, 5:26PM

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