Former Wallabies captain George Smith has assembled quite the CV, 165 Super Rugby appearances, 111 caps for Australia, stints in Japan, France and England.
But the 38-year-old isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet, he’s agreed a short-term deal with Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears.
“I wanted a challenge and coming into the Premiership has definitely allowed that for myself. There are a lot of attractions that brought me here, Pat Lam and his coaching staff. I enjoy the style of play and also the recruitment that they’ve done this season. I had the opportunity to play with a number of the players in the team and it’s an easy fit for me to come into”, Smith told RugbyPass.
Smith has signed a six month contract, but didn’t rule out remaining with the Premiership outfit beyond that time.
“Look, first and foremost lets get through the first six months and we’ll look into it after. I am really enjoying my time at the moment and really enjoying the structures and team that is around. Let’s see how it goes in the next few months.”
Smith was notably called in by Eddie Jones to assist with his coaching of England, given Smith’s reputation as one of the world’s best opensides, particularly around the breakdown. So does Smith expect to help with the coaching at Bristol?
Smith replied, “I am coming as player. First and foremost I am a rugby player trying to do the best as I can for my team. The way I conduct myself at training and after training – passing on my experience as a player is important. Any way I can develop players I am there for that.”
Having rebranded to the Bristol Bears, the Premiership’s promoted team are aiming to right the wrongs of two seasons ago when they plunged straight back into the Championship. Smith told RugbyPass that they are looking
“First and foremost, it’s not about us staying up. We have a team that are going to be very competitive this year and challenge a lot of the teams in the competition. We want to be a Champions Cup team next season. I think we have the game plan and also the players within our squad to really push teams within this competition.”
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Video: RugbyPass visit the Bristol Bears
The experienced Wallaby is in a good position to decipher whether or not this current vintage have what it takes to challenge at the World Cup next year considering their recent results.
“I think after adversity it is how quickly they galvanise around each other. I think it’s too early to look, six months (too far) ahead now to look into the World Cup.
“I think their focus is very much on getting on this second encounter against a very formidable All Blacks side.
“I think the players have confidence in the personnel that they have and also the coaches have confidence in the players, so yeah (they can compete at the World Cup).”
Video: Wallaby captain Michael Hooper ahead of Bledisloe II
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