Rugby: Leaving Smith out huge call

By Wynne Gray, in Melbourne

George Smith has been left out of the test. Photo / Wayne Drought
George Smith has been left out of the test. Photo / Wayne Drought

There must be some mistake. No George Smith in the Wallabies for the second test with the Lions.

No room for the experience of 110 caps and the sort of direction he brought to the Brumbies when he answered their call for help early in the Super 15.

No space after he declared himself fit and was summonsed to the squad in Melbourne for a match the Wallabies must win to keep the series alive in Sydney.

This is not the time for the Wallabies to make any sort of talk about showing faith in two young flankers Michael Hooper and Liam Gill for the way they have played and fitted into the group - or some other muck about Smith not being quite right. Smith is class, the others have their L-plates on.

It's all very nice to have Smith around the team schooling the apprentices about the arts of test rugby as Paul O'Connell is doing with the Lions, but O'Connell can't play with a broken arm, Smith has passed the checks.

Even an 85 per cent fit Smith would do the early business for the Wallabies to help absorb the Lions and take some of the sting out of their play before unleashing Hooper.

Smith might have hurt his knee a while back but the man has warrior blood flowing through his teak frame, he understands the methods of heavy battles rather than lighter skirmishes, he is as born to test rugby as Richie McCaw.

New Zealand has tut-tutted about Sam Cane's production in the absence of McCaw. The difference is noticeable. No fault of Cane, he is a rising work in progress while McCaw is readying for his 13th season of international rugby.

Hooper has played 14 tests and Gill nine as they make their way in the maelstrom of international rugby.

Smith has seen most of it before and certainly experienced just about everything that can happen in the test arena. It's all about knowledge and expertise.

The Wallaby frontrow is accruing that with tighthead Ben Alexander ticking off his 50th test tomorrow to become only the fourth Australian prop to reach that milestone. He joins loosehead Benn Robinson, Al Baxter and Reds coach Ewen Mckenzie in that select group.

Alexander dismisses talk about perceived Wallaby weakness in the scrums as a hoary old topic.

- NZ Herald

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