Wallaby legend Smith Officially Retires
Australia Series 17 -Wallabies legend George Smith officially retires from international rugby
I HAVE no desire to play Test rugby anymore.”
And with those nine words, George Smith has officially ended any speculation that he may play for the Wallabies again following his sensational decision to return to Super Rugby next year.
While many Australian rugby fans had hoped the ageless Smith might be tempted to pull on the gold jersey once more - as he did in 2013 when he stepped out of international retirement to face the British & Irish Lions - the 35-year-old has shut the door on international rugby.
“No I wouldn’t,” Smith replied when asked about playing for the Wallabies again.
“I really enjoyed my time with the Wallabies, I came out of retirement a couple of years ago against the Lions, and I really enjoyed playing my time with the Wallabies, I played 111 Tests, I’m really content with that.
“I really enjoy just supporting the players, I have no desire to play Test rugby any more.
“I can’t get too greedy, I’ve had enough.”
Smith, who will play for the Queensland Reds in 2017 and 2018 between stints for Suntory in the Japanese Top League, is certain that will see out his professional career.
“It would be hard to say that wouldn’t see my out - Barcelona rugby is still in the wings, I’m ready to sign with them whenever they’ll have me,” Smith joked.
After Smith’s mentoring role with England back rower James Haskell, who then proceeded to destroy Australia last weekend and lead the visitors to their first Test win in Brisbane, it seems the legendary backrower is perfectly suited to a career in coaching post playing.
“It was great to hear Haskell played well, but against the Australian team I wasn’t too pleased,” Smith said.
“I hope he does play really well [for the remainder of the series] because he deserves to, he has worked really hard throughout the year.
“But I think the Australian backrow are competent enough to nullify his involvement, hopefully.
“In terms of my mentoring or coaching, I think players find the respect that I’m still playing the game and get into those positions, and they can draw off seeing me do that and try to replicate certain positions.
“But everyone’s body make-up is very different when they’re doing things on the field.”
But Smith, who has four children under 10 and was desperate to settle in Brisbane after years of playing around the world, will not hold any formal coaching role with the Reds or Suntory while playing for them.
“The coaching or mentoring, I do that anyway, with Suntory or the Wasps players I was working with them,” Smith said.
“It’s more about teaching them what I know, and my thought process of why I’m doing things on the field.
“It’s not me giving 20 to 30 minutes within a team session and going through a certain drill, it’s me taking players after the training session and spending 15 to 20 minutes with them on specific drills, on what they would like to work on, and what I find with their body make-up and their co-ordination that will help them.”
Smith, who is an ambassador for HSBC, is relishing leadership opportunities in Australian rugby over the next two years.
“On and off the field, leadership is what I have to instil in all players,” Smith said.
“What I can draw back on is my experience with great leaders in the past, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Stephen Moore, even James Haskell in Wasps was great to work under.
“I’ve had some really good leaders throughout my time and drawing on the way they attend to their craft and be better players, hopefully I can draw on that and pass it onto the generation coming through.”
Mentoring James Haskell
“I think my family members have disowned me!
“It’s fantastic on a personal note to see James do really well.
“He’s not a young buck any more, and he is always striving to be a better player, and I found that within the sessions we did - he’s always looking for new things, always trying to develop new arsenal to his game.”
Sean McMahon chosen to start against England
“I haven’t had too much to do with Sean, but looking from the outside in he is a go-getter, he rips in.
“He doesn’t hold back, he’s a 100 mile per hour person, gets in there with no hesitation, and he carries the ball quite well, breaks tackles a fair bit.
“To be picked in front of Wycliff Palu, who has been a stalwart in the No.8 position for a number of years previous to the World Cup, is a big selection I think.”
The potential of the Reds next year
“I’ve been a part of teams that have had a fantastic roster but never put it together on the field.
“Once the group get together and they have the coaching structures set in place, big acquisitions like Stephen Moore together with [Rob] Simmons, those guys have played numerous amounts of Super Rugby games, you have the experience there and also the ability to develop younger players.”
Why he didn’t rejoin the Brumbies
“I did consider going back to the Brumbies, but it just didn’t make sense for me from a family point of view, to go to Canberra preparing for games on the weekend and travelling throughout the Super Rugby season, and then travel back to Brisbane where my family are based.
“I did that in 2013 with the season [in Canberra] and coming up to Sydney [for the Lions Test], and then going to Japan, it just didn’t work.
“It was very much a time thing, spending more time with the family.”
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