Australian Legend Signs for Wasps

Australian Legend Signs for Wasps

Australian legend George Smith will get a taste of Champions Cup rugby next season after agreeing a switch from Lyon to Wasps.

The 34-year-old flank, part of the Wallabies side that beat the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and reached the 2003 World Cup final, retired from international rugby with 111 caps after one final appearance against the Lions in 2013.

He played for the Brumbies for 11 years before switching to Europe and then Japan. He played for Toulon in the old Heineken Cup in 2010/11, helping them reach the quarterfinals, and the following season played for Stade Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup, reaching the semi- finals. He made 24 appearances for Lyon last season, but couldn't stop them from losing their Top 14 status.

He will join a Wasps team that retained its Champions Cup place and will get his first taste of Premiership rugby, battling for a place with James Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes, Guy Thompson, Sam Jones and Thomas Young.

"George Smith is one of the greats of his generation. To be able to add a player of his international experience and quality is a real coup for Wasps," said Wasps Director of Rugby, Dai Young. "Despite being 34 years old, he has shown through his form at Lyon this season that he is still one of the sharpest operators in the game. He is in tremendous shape and his reading of the game and winning mentality should benefit Wasps hugely next season.

"We have a very strong back row already, but with Johnson's transition to hooker for the long-term and a relatively young back row grouping, we are really pleased to be able to make the addition of a top-level player like George [Smith]. "He will be a fantastic professional for our young loose forwards to learn from, on and off the field, and I am sure their games will continue to develop significantly playing alongside him.

We learned this year that competing at the sharp-end of the Premiership and in the latter stages of the European Champions Cup requires real depth and experience to the squad. "We have incredible natural talent within our ranks and some of the most exciting attacking threats in the Premiership, but many of our young players are still learning their trade. George [Smith] has been there and done it. "As a player, he has that hard, abrasive edge you need in a team, as well as years of experience of winning big trophies and tight games to draw on, when we are hopefully competing at the top end of the table again next season."

Smith helped the Brumbies reach a Super Rugby final and was the highest paid Australian player in the world when he went to play for Suntory in Japan. "I am very excited to be joining Wasps. I have always admired their history in Europe and it's clear from developments on and off the field this season that Wasps are a very progressive and ambitious club, who are determined to get back to the top of the European game," said Smith. "I have really enjoyed the experience of playing in France, Japan and Australia and I am extremely motivated to test myself in the Premiership.

Wasps have a really exciting group of young and talented players and I hope to be able to use my experience to help develop that talent."

– Entry was posted on May 26th, 2015 by James Haskell

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