Rugby: Reds nab 111-test veteran

The Queensland Reds have signed former Wallabies great George Smith. Photo / Getty
The Queensland Reds have signed former Wallabies great George Smith. Photo / Getty

His job brief may expand to coaching but at the moment new Queensland Reds recruit George Smith's role is simple - miracle worker.

Smith will be greeted like the messiah by the Reds faithful after signing for the next two seasons for a Queensland team praying for a second coming as a Super Rugby force.

Reds executive manager Dan Herbert didn't exactly ease the expectation on the world class flanker after confirming the remarkable coup.

"I was just talking to (former England player) Jason Leonard and he said at (England club) Wasps he's been a miracle worker," Herbert said.

"So, let's get the holy water and away we go."

If anyone can resurrect the lowly Reds, it's Smith.

He is a dream replacement for flanker Liam Gill who leaves for French club Toulon at season's end.

And at 35 Smith is still in dominant form, claiming the Rugby Players Association Players' Player award after shining for English premiership club Wasps this season.

The 111-Test veteran will next season inspire a new look Queensland roster that will welcome back Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, Australian fringe No.8 Leroy Houston - and possibly playmaker Quade Cooper.

"I think we're quick as a nation to throw people out before their use-by date and George has showed you're very useful (at any age)," Herbert said of the evergreen Smith. "As long as you can keep up, you're still as good as you ever were."

Herbert believed Smith would be just as effective off the field for the Reds, hinting at a future coaching gig.

Smith has already indicated he will enjoy a mentor role with Reds players.

And he recently assisted the England camp with their breakdown strategy.

"I think we've been crying out for some really strong experience with our team and our list," Herbert said.

"He (Smith) adds to that ability to transcend some of that experience that had been lacking and probably been lost in a pretty young group.

"There's been a gap there. Certainly, they (the current players) haven't been found wanting in desire but in knowing what to do at different times."

Wallabies great George Gregan toasted Smith's return to Australia.

"There probably isn't an adjective to describe him properly but he is immense," he said. The man who gave Herbert the inside word on Smith - Leonard - described the flanker's signing as "inspired" after watching first hand his dominance at Wasps.

"He was top of the charts in most things, tackling, assisting, getting over the ball, winning penalties - he had a great season in England," Leonard said.

"With our wet weather the ball seems to get bogged down but he seemed to rise above that.

"He will be a real asset for the Reds."


Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Oct 2016 12:20:13 Processing Time: 603ms