JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Pocock injury throws nervous Smith into the deep end

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Crunch time for Reds and Brumbies

Are the Reds and Brumbies looking forward to another tough week for the Australian Conference?

PT0M0S 620 349

 It is Saturday, March 9. George Smith has just marked his headlining return to Super Rugby with a superb 70-minute performance for the Brumbies.

It is a sweet outcome for all of the Brumbies and their fans, too, with their 35-6 round four win against the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.

In the Brumbies locker room, players are back-slapping each other, elated about their win over their arch rivals NSW and that Smith is back to share it.

Old ways: George Smith takes the ball up.

Old ways: George Smith takes the ball up. Photo: Getty Images

The only tinge of regret is the knee injury that sidelined David Pocock after 10 minutes and fast-tracked Smith's call-up from the bench to play at No. 7.

Players start to circle in readiness to sing the team song, a song Smith had sung many times in his 10-year 120-game spell with the Brumbies that ended in May 2010 when he left Australia to play in France and later Japan.

In honour of his return to Canberra, Smith is asked to take centre place in the players' circle and lead the song once more. But the 110-Test veteran has forgotten how it starts and looks to hooker Stephen Moore to ask.

''It came back quite quickly; but I needed the first word to start it off,'' Smith laughs as he recalls the moment from New Zealand where the Brumbies will play the Highlanders at Dunedin on Friday night.

He looked like the Smith of old against the Waratahs; but the Tokyo-based Suntory Sungoliath backrower, who was allowed to play for the Brumbies on a short contract that ends on May 31, was more nervous than most ever knew.

His return to Canberra Stadium began awkwardly. Upon arrival at the locker room, instinct led Smith to his old booth in the corner, only to realise that it was no longer his, but winger Joe Tomane's. Graciously, says Smith, Tomane ''gave it back to me, which was very nice. I was happy with that''.

He reacquainted himself with the tribal atmosphere of a Brumbies crowd in the warm-up before taking his unaccustomed place on the bench for kick-off. He then watched every Brumbies pass, tackle, kick and step to fast-track his knowledge of game patterns and calls only given to him a week earlier. Smith, 32, was happy to play apprentice to Pocock, 24, who took his Wallabies No. 7 slot in 2009.

So when Pocock broke down against the Waratahs, Smith was taken aback. ''I wasn't expected to play the minutes I have had. I was surprised as anyone that 'Poey' didn't go on,'' Smith says. ''Obviously, we didn't know the [season-ending] seriousness of the injury. I was looking forward to working alongside David. I am not too proud to say that I wanted to learn off him. But to come on after 10 minutes, with the week I had … I was pretty uncomfortable with the calling structures and how the Brumbies play which is a completely different way to how we play at Suntory.

''But once I got out there, instincts took over. I followed the ball, fed off others and tried to search for information. We also played extremely well.''

So what brought Smith back to Australian rugby? It was not money, nor the lure of winning another Super title or the dream of pushing his way back into the Wallabies for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour to Australia - despite calls he should be picked.

Smith's motivation was far simpler. He prefers to play rather than train for rugby. After the Japanese season ended last year, he played well for French Top 14 side Stade Francais in Paris. But even when Eddie Jones, a Suntory Sungoliath consultant, and Brumbies coach Jake White hatched a plan for Smith to play with the Brumbies for three months, he still had doubts. ''I had reservations,'' Smith says.

''I felt I had left a really good legacy in Australia in my Super and Test rugby and thought, 'Would I jeopardise that by coming back for the Australian public to see me in a different light?'

''But after a couple of days talking to my wife Louise, I was very confident of my ability at this level to make an impact rather than be a passenger.''

While Smith would still consider any opportunity to play for the Wallabies again, he intends to honour his Suntory Goliath contract and return to Japan.

''If I was considered for the Lions, I would think about it because it's such a huge occasion. But I haven't had - or made - any direct contact with the ARU in regards to that,'' says Smith.

As for Smith's ultimate future, one thing is sure. Don't expect another Brumbies comeback. As he says: ''I don't want to sound like Johnny Farnham''.

Twitter: @rupertguinness

 

6 comments so far

  • If there is any chance of getting George Smith to play for the Wallabies this year, and it's not pursued, well, we're just not serious about trying to win. This guy is a must select!

    Commenter
    MG
    Location
    QLD
    Date and time
    April 12, 2013, 8:09AM
    • I couldn't agree more

      Commenter
      longpass
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 12, 2013, 2:37PM
    • 100%.

      Commenter
      GT
      Location
      Shanghai
      Date and time
      April 12, 2013, 3:03PM
  • George Smith is a legend and his credentials are there for the Wallaby selectors to see. A win tonight, and Jake will have to start thinking seriously about the short term nature of his contract.

    Commenter
    Gothabrumbies
    Date and time
    April 12, 2013, 10:55AM
    • We need to move heaven and earth to make him line up against the Lions. A few calm old heads is exactly what the Wallabies have been missing for some time.

      Commenter
      GT
      Location
      Shanghai
      Date and time
      April 12, 2013, 3:01PM
      • As great as a player he was and still is, it is not fair to the younger guys coming thru. I have not seen him play since he returned to the Super 15's but obviously follow the results and the commentary which goes with it. George Smith would be the first to acknowledge that he has had a fabulous career and his loyalty at present must and should be to his Japanese club who has been extremely gracious to allow George in his own words "play rugby" and not just "train for rugby". This interlude between seasons should be grasped by George and those of us who enjoy watching him play, however, if the Wallabies have no one else to groom then Australian rugby is doomed.

        Commenter
        xavier
        Location
        Shenzhen, China
        Date and time
        April 12, 2013, 8:20PM

        Make a comment

        You are logged in as [Logout]

        All information entered below may be published.

        Error: Please enter your screen name.

        Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

        Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

        Error: Please enter your comment.

        Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

        Post to

        You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

        Thank you

        Your comment has been submitted for approval.

        Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

        Related Coverage

        HuffPost Australia

        Super Rugby 2016

        Round 1
        Fri, 26 FebTimes shown AEDT
        BLU 0vs HIG 0 17:35EP
        BRU 0vs HUR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
        CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
        Sunw 0vs LIO 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CRU 0vs CHF 0 17:35AMI
        WAR 0vs RED 0 19:40AS
        FOR 0vs REB 0 21:50nib Stadium
        Sun, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
        King 0vs SHA 0 00:00NMBS
        STO 0vs BUL 0 02:05DHL Newlands
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU 0vs BLU 0 17:35AMI
        BRU 0vs WAR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
        HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
        RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
        CHT 0vs STO 0 02:05FSS
        SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
        FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
        Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
        Sunw 0vs CHT 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
        King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
        STO 0vs SHA 0 02:05DHL Newlands
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
        WAR 0vs HIG 0 19:40AS
        Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
        Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
        RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
        LIO 0vs CHT 0 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
        STO 0vs BRU 0 04:10DHL Newlands
        Jagu 0vs CHF 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR 0vs King 0 17:35WS
        Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 0vs FOR 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
        Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
        SHA 0vs CRU 0 02:05GpKP
        Jagu 0vs STO 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        RED 0vs WAR 0 16:05SS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
        HIG 0vs FOR 0 17:35FBS
        Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
        LIO 0vs CRU 0 04:00Emirates Airlines Park
        BLU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35QBE Stadium
        BRU 0vs CHF 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
        King 0vs Sunw 0 02:05NMBS
        BUL 0vs CHT 0 03:10Loftu
        WAR 0vs REB 0 16:05AS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs BLU 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        FOR 0vs CRU 0 21:00nib Stadium
        Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
        STO 0vs Sunw 0 03:00DHL Newlands
        HUR 0vs Jagu 0 17:35WS
        RED 0vs HIG 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs LIO 0 01:05GpKP
        King 0vs BUL 0 03:10NMBS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35AMI
        REB 0vs HUR 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHT 0vs Sunw 0 03:00FSS
        BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
        WAR 0vs BRU 0 19:40AS
        Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs RED 0 01:05Loftu
        LIO 0vs STO 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs SHA 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs CHT 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs Jagu 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
        FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
        STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
        Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
        BRU 0vs CRU 0 16:05GIO Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs SHA 0 17:35Yarro
        FOR 0vs BUL 0 21:05nib Stadium
        Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs BRU 0 15:15Rugby Park
        BLU 0vs REB 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs HUR 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
        STO 0vs WAR 0 03:10DHL Newlands
        Jagu 0vs King 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs RED 0 17:35AMI
        BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs FOR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
        SHA 0vs HUR 0 23:00GpKP
        Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs BLU 0 01:05NMBS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs CRU 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
        WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
        Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        CHT 0vs King 0 01:05FSS
        LIO 0vs BLU 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
        Jagu 0vs SHA 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
        Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
        RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
        CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
        LIO 0vs Jagu 0 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
        Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs King 0 01:05GpKP
        BUL 0vs STO 0 03:10Loftu
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
        WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
        Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
        BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
        BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        STO 0vs CHT 0 23:00DHL Newlands
        Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs LIO 0 01:05Loftu
        REB 0vs FOR 0 16:05AAMI
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs CRU 0 17:35ANZ National Stadium, Suva
        BRU 0vs RED 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs WAR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
        REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
        CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
        Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs SHA 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
        King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
        Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
        BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
        Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
        CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
        WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
        FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
        Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
        SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
        Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
        BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
        Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
        CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
        HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
        BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
        CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
        Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        View All Fixtures
        Super Rugby Semi Finals
        Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        View All Fixtures
        Super Rugby Grand Final
        Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        View All Fixtures
        Super Rugby 2016
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D +/- Pts
        Blues 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0
        View all
        Super Rugby 2016
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D +/- Pts
        Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Force 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0
        View all
         

        Follow Us on Facebook

        Featured advertisers