Wallabies great back in green and gold
LEGENDARY flanker George Smith is back in Wallabies colours - but, before you get excited, only as a mentor.
The 111-Test veteran was back at Wallabies training at Leichhardt Oval on Monday and Tuesday, four years after he last pulled on the national uniform during the 2013 Lions series.
Smith dismissed the possibility of a Test return for the Wallabies but he said he'd willingly accepted an invitation from coach Michael Cheika to spend a week in camp on staff before Australia's clash with Scotland on Saturday.
Smith's job is to help Michael Hooper, Richard Hardwick and the other backrowers with the finer points of an art form he has mastered in a 18-year career.
"I am in here I guess just mentoring some of the players," Smith said.
"It's great to be back in the sanctum of the Wallabies, it's such a privilege to be here. I am here to assist wherever possible, to help around the breakdown and whatnot. That's my role."
Remarkably, Smith is still going strong for the Queensland Reds at the ripe old age of 36 and Cheika said recently he would inquire whether the old boy would be available for Test selection.
Smith effectively retired from international rugby in 2015 after missing selection for the World Cup, and though he has said since he'd never turn down a Wallabies jersey if a crisis emerged, the Manly product recently pointed Cheika towards picking a new generation of players.
Wallabies players are teasing Smith this week that he'll be back in an Australian jersey eventually but the dual John Eales Medal winner reiterated his time in the Test team was over.
"I am happy with the role he has given me this week. I am not here to push for any Wallaby selection or any games. That's not what I want," Smith said.
"My focus is on the next two games with the Reds - we have the Brumbies and the Highlanders - and then I am back to Japan, so I have no time to commit to the Wallabies in that regard."
This time last year England - helped by the tutelage of Smith - handed Australia a 3-0 whitewash on home soil. Eddie Jones wisely drafted his former Brumbies charge into the England set-up as an unofficial breakdown coach.
Hooper said it was outstanding to have Smith back in camp with the good guys.
"You'd be a fool not to pick his brains," Hooper said. "He played in competitions all over the world and been brilliant and successful everywhere he goes.
"It's like he never left. Playing him one week, he's in the fold again the next. He is different clothes at the moment but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the switch. He had his boots on yesterday, I am not sure he ever takes them off."