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Wallabies great Smith ready to play at home in Super deal

Brumbies legend George Smith could be coming back to play Super Rugby.

Brumbies legend George Smith could be coming back to play Super Rugby. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

WALLABIES legend George Smith is poised to make a return to Australian rugby to play for a Super Rugby franchise on a short-term deal for this season. He will not be putting his hand up for a Test comeback.

It is not known with which of the five Australian franchises the 32-year-old back-rower has been negotiating, but Fairfax Media understands an announcement has been scheduled for this week, possibly as early as Monday.

Smith, a 110-Test veteran, played with the Brumbies for 10 years and earned 120 Super caps with the Canberra side before leaving Australia in 2010 after the Super Rugby season to pursue his career overseas with the French Top 14 side, Toulon, for one season.

He then left Toulon to join the Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath in 2011 on a three-year, $1.2 million-a-season deal, making him the highest-paid Australian rugby player.

He has recently re-signed with the Tokyo-based club, who played Kobe Kobelco Steelers in the final of the All-Japan Championship in Tokyo on Sunday.

But with the season in Japan over, Smith now has time to play in Australia because Suntory Sungoliath players will not reconvene for pre-season training until June.

Smith is due to return to Australia this week to join his family in Sydney, who have welcomed a new addition with the birth of his and his wife Louise's fourth child, Rafael, now seven months old.

But the three-month break before he is needed back in Japan will allow Smith time to play Super Rugby again pending Suntory Sungoliath approval.

A similar arrangement last year had Smith playing in the Top 14 for Paris-based Stade Francais.

His return to Super Rugby will surprise many in Australia. There is no apparent lack of depth of openside breakaways or back-rowers among the Australian franchises.

Starting No.7s in round two of Super Rugby were David Pocock (Brumbies) who took the national strip from Smith at the end of his Test career, Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Liam Gill (Reds), Matt Hodgson (Force) and Kiwi Scott Fuglistaller (Rebels).

Smith was one of the world's best No.7s when he was at his peak. However, he can also play anywhere in the back row; and while he has pursued his career overseas in recent years, injury or circumstances in games have regularly required him to cover at the half-back, No.10 and No.12 slots.

In Japan, Smith has reportedly been blitzing the field for Suntory Sungoliath. His tactical brilliance and read of game, and his technique and physicality at the breakdown are reportedly as strong as ever.

That the Japanese game has not affected his standard of play would be of no shock to Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, who last year coached Stade Francais before joining the Waratahs and had Smith under his wing at that time.

''George Smith came and played in France for me for a few months … it didn't look like it affected him too much,'' Cheika said last month.

Twitter: @rupertguinness

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
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WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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