Pocock welcomes Smith battle at Brumbies
February 26, 2013
Wallabies captain David Pocock welcomes the back row competition of George Smith at the Brumbies. © Getty Images
Openside flanker Smith will arrive later this week to rejoin the club on a short-term contract after helping his Japanese club Suntory to their fifth title on Sunday.
Smith will be doing well to dislodge his Test successor Pocock from the starting side. But the veteran of 110 Tests will certainly make it difficult for coach Jake White to leave him on the bench and Smith could push for other places in the backrow.
"Absolutely (he'll keep me on my toes) and that's what you want," said Pocock. "It's outstanding ... everyone would want to play alongside George, he's a great guy to have around. Apart from the on-field stuff, off-field just having him around, he's such a calming influence on the group and guys just generally love hanging out with him."
Smith remains contracted to Suntory but is available for an off-season stint - something he did with French club Stade Francais last year.
The 32-year-old, who played 128 games for the Brumbies before heading overseas following the 2010 season, will be available for selection in the Brumbies' next match - against the NSW Waratahs on March 9 in Canberra following a bye this weekend.
Waratahs mentor Michael Cheika coached Smith at Stade Francais and believes the Smith signing is a masterstroke in motivating match-winner Pocock to even greater levels of performance.
"Pocock might be looking over his shoulder," Cheika joked. "It's great for the game that he's back in it. I think he left far too early. He's going to be very good for a lot of the younger players down there."
"He's a quality person and a quality player and I think he's going to surprise a few people with how good he is and how sharp he'll be when he gets back to Australian rugby," Cheika added. "We'll have to make sure we don't do him any favours when we go down there to play."
Although Smith won't be available for Wallabies selection, national coach Robbie Deans says his presence in the Australian Conference will bring the best out of the young No.7s around the country like Pocock, Liam Gill and Michael Hooper.
Brumbies coach White described Smith as a winner.
"This year we've been trying to bring back some of the old attitudes and ways of thinking that made the Brumbies such a success in the early days," said White, who has already brought former Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone as part of that strategy."
"(Smith) has won Super Rugby Championships, he's won big games for the Wallabies and he's played in a Rugby World Cup final so I want him to bring that winning culture back here to the Brumbies."