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George Smith called up to Wallabies squad

  
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6/23/2013


Brumbies flanker George Smith is among three players who have been called up to join the Qantas Wallabies in camp in Melbourne today ahead of the second Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour.
 
Smith, his Brumbies team-mate Jesse Mogg, and the Queensland Reds centre Ben Tapuai, have been added to the group that will prepare for Saturday night’s second Test as the Wallabies look to strike back after last night’s 21-23 loss in the opening Tom Richards Cup Test in Brisbane.
 
Reinforcement was called for today due to injuries which have placed in doubt inside centre Pat McCabe (neck), winger 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 against the British & Irish Lions to be determined in the early part of the week.
 
The status of inside centre Christian Leali’ifano, who sustained a glancing blow to the head and left the field in the opening minute, will also be reviewed further once the Wallabies settle in Melbourne.
 
Tapuai, 24, who last appeared for Australia on last year’s Spring Tour, is comfortable at both inside and outside centre and has played seven Tests for the Wallabies since his debut against Wales on the 2011 Spring Tour.
 
Six of those matches came last year.
 
Mogg is uncapped, but was involved in the Qantas Wallabies preliminary squad last year after a rookie Super Rugby season which saw him appear in all but two of the matches the Brumbies played.
 
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.
 
At the other end of the experience scale, the 32-year-old Smith, who returned to Australia this year on a short term contract with the Brumbies, last represented his country against Wales at Cardiff in 2009 during a match the Wallabies won 33-12.
 
That was the 110th Test of a stellar career which saw him end as his country’s most capped forward (although he has since been overtaken by lock Nathan Sharpe, who retired last year with 116 appearances).
 
Four years after his last Test, he is still Australia’s third most capped player behind his former Brumbies and Wallabies captain George Gregan, who appeared in 139 Tests.
 
Smith, who is based with Japanese club Suntory, was cleared by the Australian Rugby Union to play in the DHL Australia 2013 Lions series after extending his contract with the Brumbies through until the end of the Super Rugby competition.
 
However a knee injury, sustained during the Australian conference winner’s loss to the NSW Waratahs in Sydney last month, put the hopes of a Test return on hold while he underwent rehabilitation.
 
Now back running, Smith has been called into camp so that the Wallabies coaching and medical staff can assess his readiness for a Test return, with no decision on potential availability for Saturday’s second Test to be made until later in the week.
 
As well as his renowned breakdown expertise, Smith brings vast experience into the Wallaby camp, which includes a key role as Australia’s starting flanker during the 2-1 series win against the British & Irish Lions on their last tour to this country in 2001.
 
Smith made a winning debut against France in Paris on the 2000 Spring Tour 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 Rugby 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.