George Smith denies Wallabies discussions
April 11, 2013
George Smith has turned back the years with the Brumbies © Getty Images
George Smith insists he has not held discussions with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans about playing against the British & Irish Lions, even though his potential availability for the three-Test series in June and July has been a constant source of speculation since he returned to the Brumbies on a short-term deal in March.
The 110-Test veteran, who is contracted to Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, has been a revelation for the Brumbies in the absence of Wallabies skipper David Pocock, who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against New South Wales Waratahs four weeks ago.
Pocock's injury sparked further speculation that the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) would bend its rule preventing players contracted to overseas clubs from playing for the Wallabies. But Smith expects to be on a family holiday in June.
"It's not a distraction for me because I know where I stand with that and there hasn't been any direct or indirect conversations with the ARU," Smith said on Wednesday of the constant speculation. "So for me it's very easy. I'm here with the Brumbies and obviously I'm contracted to the Suntory Sungoliaths, so for me it's no problem. Obviously there's going to be talk outside of that because I have had the experience of playing the Lions in the past a number of years back, so it's only natural that there would be a discussion there."
Smith, 32, is contracted to the Brumbies until the end of May, but coach Jake White has declared publicly that he will ask Suntory for an extension if the Brumbies qualify for the Super Rugby play-offs in July.
Asked if he would consider playing on for the Brumbies, Smith said: "As it stands now I'm contracted to the Brumbies until May 31 and after that I have a break planned for myself and my family, so there's nothing planed as yet.
"Would I like to continue playing with the Brumbies? Yeah, of course I would because I enjoy playing rugby and I feel that training alongside this team will prepare me well for the upcoming Suntory season. So first and foremost my goal is to be in the best condition for the Suntory season coming up, and out of respect for Suntory obviously I can't look [beyond] that because they've allowed me to be in this position now."
Smith's immediate focus is on the Super Rugby round-nine clash against the winless Highlanders. The Brumbies are coming off a disappointing draw with the Southern Kings in Canberra, and Smith says his side can't afford to take the bottom-placed Highlanders lightly on Friday night.
"I've been impressed with the Highlanders and the way that they've played leading up to this game," Smith said. "They've promoted the ball, they've thrown it around and [they are dangerous] on the counter-attack so I expect them to throw everything at us. So we're not taking this game lightly and we've prepared pretty well."