Smith loan set to be extended
Sydney - Veteran flank George Smith may get a longer loan from Japan to the Brumbies, coach Jack White said on Monday, but it was unclear if he would be available for Australia during this year's Lions tour.
White said he met with Smith's Japanese club coaches in Dunedin after the experienced backrower once again impressed in the Brumbies' 30-19 Super Rugby victory over New Zealand's Highlanders last Friday.
The 110-Test great forced a a turnover that led to an early penalty goal and scored a try off the back of a rolling maul before half-time.
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White said the two Suntory Sungoliath coaches were receptive, adding that their primary concern was that Smith needed to be fresh for the start of the Japanese season on August 18.
"Don't forget they love the fact that Suntory get some mileage and Japanese rugby gets some mileage," White said.
"So I'm sure if we find a way in which we can keep him fresh and give him enough time to play and make sure he's 100 percent ready for their season... I'm sure that they would look at accommodating us."
But it remained unclear whether that agreement includes Smith appearing in the three Tests against the British and Irish Lions from June 22 to July 6, as well as possibly the Super Rugby finals in July-early August.
At present, Smith's last game for the Brumbies is slated to be against the Hurricanes in Canberra on May 31.
Reds' Liam Gill and Michael Hooper of the Waratahs are the two number sevens among Robbie Deans' preliminary 30-man squad for the Lions series, with Smith ineligible due to his status as a foreign-based player.
Deans will finalise a 31-man Test squad on June 11.