Gill coy on Smith Wallabies return
March 26, 2013
Openside flanker Liam Gill has been a standout player for Queensland Reds in 2013 © Getty Images
The second coming of George Smith has not surprised form Queensland Reds openside flanker Liam Gill. But Gill was coy when asked if he would back a campaign to change eligibility rules for his potential Wallabies rival.
Smith has been a standout early in his 12-week Brumbies stint but technically can't be considered for Wallabies selection because he is contracted to Japanese club Suntory.
However, ARU boss Bill Pulver has admitted he won't be surprised if Wallabies coach Robbie Deans asks what can be done to enable Smith to play in the high-profile home Test series against the British and Irish Lions in June-July.
And Brumbies coach Jake White acknowledged on Tuesday he planned to investigate whether Suntory would be prepared to extend Smith's stay with the Canberra franchise.
Gill was widely considered to be leading last year's Wallabies revelation Michael Hooper in the race to Australia's starting openside flanker after first-choice David Pocock's season-ending knee injury.
But both men may yet play second fiddle to Smith if the 32-year-old veteran is allowed to add to his 110 Tests.
Gill - back from a minor knee complaint this week - admitted Smith had picked up for the Brumbies where he had left off in his last Super Rugby season in 2010 before heading overseas.
"He's a fantastic player. The first week he slotted straight back into Super Rugby," Gill said. "He is one of the best players in the whole competition. He's a super talent with 110 Tests to his name."
"It's no surprise to anyone how good a player he is," Gill added. "It's great for Australia to have him back playing but it's completely out of control what happens down the track (for the Lions tour)."
Asked if Smith should be considered for Wallabies selection, Gill said: "I've got no comment on it I guess."
Gill can resume staking his own Wallabies claim when he returns against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday. And Gill had another veteran in his sights - the Highlanders' 38-year-old dual international lock Brad Thorn.
"He's a warhorse. It would be great to have the opportunity to come up against him - I might be a bit star struck," Gill said.
Gill is one of several changes in the Reds side. Luke Morahan and Dom Shipperley are the new wingers after the Reds lost Digby Ioane (knee) and Chris Feauai-Sautia (thigh strain) from last round's 23-18 win over the Bulls.
The Reds will also be without hooker Saia Faingaa (neck), reserve halfback Nick Frisby (ankle) and utility back Mike Harris (hand).
There are four new faces on the bench - Ben Daley, scrumhalf Ben Lucas and backs Aidan Toua and Rod Davies.
Reds coaching boss Ewen McKenzie will on Friday become the most capped mentor in Super Rugby history, breaking Deans's mark of 120 games when at the helm of the Crusaders