George Smith answers Wallaby SOS
George Smith answers Wallaby SOSSHARE
The injury-hit Wallabies called up veteran flank George Smith among three reinforcements for the squad for next weekend's make-or-break Test with the British and Irish Lions.
Smith, his Brumbies teammate Jesse Mogg, and Reds centre Ben Tapuai, have been added to the Wallabies group for the Melbourne match – following their 21-23 loss in the opening Test in Brisbane this past Saturday.
The call-ups follow a spate of Wallaby injuries in the first Test – with doubts over inside centre Pat McCabe (neck), wing Digby Ioane (shoulder), centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and fullback Berrick Barnes (head knock).
All four players were sent for scans after the game with their selection prospects for the second Test to be determined in the early part of the week.
The status of inside centre Christian Leali'ifano, who took a head blow and was carried off in the opening minute of the Brisbane Test, will also be reviewed further once the Wallabies settle in Melbourne.
The only real surprise in the latest dispatches from the Wallaby camp is that – despite all the injuries – there is still no room for mercurial playmaker Quade Cooper in coach Robbie Deans' squad.
Smith, the sole survivor of the Wallabies' 2001 Test series win over the Lions, suffered a medial ligament injury playing for the Brumbies last month.
But the injury was not as serious as first feared and he is now available to lend his 110-Test match experience to the desperate Wallabies.
Smith, 32, who returned to Australia this year on a short-term contract with the Brumbies from Japanese club Suntory, last represented his country against Wales at Cardiff in 2009.
Smith is Australia's third most capped player behind his former Brumbies and Wallabies captain George Gregan, who appeared in 139 Tests. At the time of his last appearance he was his country's most capped forward (although he has since been overtaken by lock Nathan Sharpe, who retired last year with 116 appearances).
Tapuai, 24, who last appeared for Australia on last year's European Tour, can play at inside and outside centre and has played seven Tests for the Wallabies, while Mogg is uncapped.
Mogg was impressive for the Brumbies in the Lions' only loss on tour 14-12 in Canberra last week.
The fullback, who turned 24 earlier this month, has again been a stand out this term, helping the Brumbies to the top of the Australian conference.
He joins the Wallabies just 18 months after first landing a development contract with the Brumbies.
Smith made a winning debut against France in Paris on the 2000 year-end and featured for the Wallabies across 10 consecutive seasons – twice being voted as winner of the prestigious John Eales Medal by his peers, becoming the first player to achieve that feat (being subsequently matched by Sharpe).
A former Australian captain, Smith attended the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, and became just the 10th player in history to feature in 100 Test matches when he achieved that milestone against New Zealand in 2009.
He was the most capped loose forward in the game's history at the time of his retirement in 2009, and has since appeared for the current European champions Toulon in France, as well as Suntory in Japan.