Lions in Australia

Deans delivers Smith bolter

2013-07-03 23:00
George Smith and Robbie Deans (Getty Images)
Sydney - Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans has handed 110-Test veteran George Smith a starting place in the deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions, four years since playing his last Test.

The Sydney Morning Herald's website reports that Smith has been named ahead of Michael Hooper as the starting openside flank for Saturday's third and deciding Test in Sydney.

There is only one other change to the Wallabies' squad, with loose forward Ben McCalman replacing centre Rob Horne on the bench.

This means that Deans will only have two backline players to call upon on his bench, scrumhalf Nick Phipps and fullback Jesse Mogg.

Former Wallabies coach and Springboks technical advisor, Eddie Jones believes Smith's selection is a master stroke by Deans.

"Every team he's gone to he's made winners and there is no coincidence there, his impact on a group cannot be measured," Jones said.

"They know he is tough and courageous and plays 100% for the team.

"The other guys will really lift playing with him."

Jones says Smith will play a pivotal role in what he believes will be a series victory for the Aussies.

"Australia will win - the Lions have had their opportunity to win the series," Jones said.

"They're bringing guys back that haven't played much rugby, they'll be pretty combative for 50 or 60 minutes but Australia will have too much for them.

"When Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau get into space the Lions will struggle to cope with them.

"Australia has the lineout edge, they just need parity in the scrum and they'll have George at the breakdown.

"It will be fantastic to see him lead Australia to a win."

Western Force coach Michael Foley played alongside Smith in the 2001 Lions series.

"I remember the Melbourne Test (in 2001) - we were desperate and George came on and made a really significant impact," Foley said.

"Their No.7 (at the time), Neil Back, prided himself on dominating his opposition number and Smith, this young novice, came on and reversed it and nullified a lot of the attack that Back made."

Former Wallabies World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer put Smith in his top 10 all-time Wallabies.

"George is a special player," Dwyer said.

"The Wallabies have got three very good openside flankers … I have a gut feel (he) is going to come in very handy on Saturday night.

"It sounds silly but I mean it specifically, he knows his way around a rugby pitch.

"He can find the ball when no one else can.

"He never stops moving."

Smith's four-year journey has seen him first retire from international rugby then leave Australian shores in 2010.

He went on to ply his trade in France and Japan before being called upon by the Brumbies earlier this season on a short-term arrangement after a season-ending knee injury to David Pocock.

This has allowed Smith to return to the Wallabies fray, with Deans drafting him into his squad for the second Test against the Lions, but choosing not to select him in his match day squad.

Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Jake White, who was responsible for bringing Smith back to Australia, has called his return a ''fairytale''.

"You can't measure what he does for guys around him - he's a winner, he's composed, he knows exactly what to do," White said.

"It will have an effect (on the result)."



15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Israel Folau, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Joe Tomane, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Will Genia, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. George Smith, 6. Ben Mowen, 5. Kane Douglas,
4. James Horwill (captain), 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Benn Robinson

Substitutes: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. James Slippper, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Michael Hooper, 22. Nick Phipps, 23. Jesse Mogg

British and Irish Lions:

15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. George North, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Mike Phillips, 8. Toby Faletau, 7. Sean O'Brien, 6. Dan Lydiate, 5. Geoff Parling, 4. Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3. Adam Jones, 2. Richard Hibbard, 1. Alex Corbisiero

Substitutes: 16. Tom Youngs, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Richie Gray, 20. Justin Tipuric, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Manu Tuilagi


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The Wallaby v British & Irish Lions series is tied at 1-1 heading into the final Test in Sydney on Saturday. Who do you foresee taking series honours?

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