George Smith still in Cheika's Wallabies plans
July 3, 2015
George Smith has been as good as ever for Lyon © Getty Images

George Smith wasn't among the French connection named in the Wallabies' 40-man squad for the opening two Rugby Championship Tests but the veteran remains very much part of coach Michael Cheika's plans.

The Wallabies announced an extended 40-man squad on Thursday ahead of the series opener against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18, with Toulon duo Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell named as expected. Smith wasn't named but Cheika revealed he's been discussing a role at No.8 for the 34-year-old 111-Test veteran.

"I've spoken with George," Cheika said of the player widely regarded as the Wallabies' greatest No.7. "I've got a pretty clear role of how he might fit in here. "We're obviously blessed with sevens. A squad here selected without Liam Gill was a very difficult thing to do.

"George has played a lot of eight as well over in Lyon this year and I think he's comfortable with the role we might want him to fill if necessary. We'll be keeping in touch around what role he might play further down the track if any."

Mitchell, meanwhile, said he thought he'd never play for the Wallabies again until the Australian Rugby Union changed its eligibility rules a few months ago.

Drew Mitchell happy to be back

"When I signed to go to Toulon, I was resigned to the fact my international career was over and that was part of the wrestle with making that decision," Mitchell said.

Now the former Waratahs winger is looking forward to playing under Cheika again, with the Wallabies going into camp on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.

Mitchell said that his good friend Giteau, with whom he flew to Sydney, had been asking plenty of questions about Cheika.

"Gits was sort of bouncing a few things off me, with my knowledge of him and what sort of gauge he could get from his conversations and things," he said. "It's exciting. [Cheika] does things differently but I think what he does is he gets the most out of players and not only that, he brings the boys together."


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