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Saints sign 'unbelievably physical' 6ft 8in, 138kg lock from NFL IPPP

By Josh Raisey
George Smith

Northampton Saints have announced the signing of former Coventry lock George Smith.

The 6ft 8in, 138kg second row left the Championship outfit earlier this year to join Louis Rees-Zammit and former Saint Harry Mallinder in the NFL’s International Player Pathway programme.

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However, while in the United States, he was approached by the Saints, and joined their squad in late April as they went on to win the Gallagher Premiership.

Smith has now committed to the English champions, and will help fill a sizeable hole in the pack at Franklin’s Gardens left by Courtney Lawes, Alex Moon and Lewis Ludlam, who all left the club at the end of the season.

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“I was out in America but it just wasn’t really for me,” said Smith when looking at his move to the NFL.

“I wanted to pursue rugby more than American Football. Shieldsy [Paul Shields, Head of Recruitment and Retention] rang me up asking if I wanted to come in, train with the boys and see if it was the right fit. It felt like home from day one.

“Everyone was really welcoming and Phil Dowson made it clear he wanted me to sign, so it was a good first few days. I don’t want to be playing anywhere else.”

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“I took away a lot of things from the NFL experience. I am a much better athlete now than I was six, seven months ago. In terms of my athletic development, it was massive. It has only pushed me to become bigger, stronger and quicker.”

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson has been blown away by what he has seen so far from Smith, describing him as “unbelievably physical.”

“George’s superpower is that he is 6ft 8in and he can move really quickly,” he said.

“The guy is unbelievably physical. When he first arrived, we tested him and his power-per-kilogram scores were incredible – the best we’ve seen in years.

“He is a bright lad and got stuck in from the word go. We’ve got someone who is physical, smart and can play the game.”

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“George comes from a totally different background, there’s no academy history for him. He played well for Coventry in the Premiership Rugby Cup against Saracens and also scored against Gloucester.”

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Tom 1 hours ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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