The Queensland Reds have recruited George Smith as a player but they’re not ruling out an eventual move into coaching for the Wallabies veteran.
Smith’s mentoring abilities are well known and he has recently been a major part of the England camp, assisting with their breakdown strategy.
Reds executive manager Dan Herbert said Smith’s reputation had grown overseas, in a club at Wasps where some described him as a miracle worker’.
“I was just talking to (former England player) Jason Leonard and he said at Wasps, he’s been a miracle worker,” he said.
“So, let’s get the holy water and away we go.”
With a relatively young group, Herbert said Smith was a crucial recruit on and off the field.
“I think we’ve been crying out for some really strong experience with our team and our list,” he said.
“Stephen Moore was the start of that, even the attraction of Brad Thorn into the coaching environment helped that cultural shift.
“When George indicated he was interested, he 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.”
While he is 35, Herbert said his form in recent seasons, including the most recent Premiership season in which he won the RPA Players’ Player of the Year, showed age was irrelevant in some considerations.
“I think we’re quick as a nation to throw people out before use-by date and George has showed you’re very useful (at any age),” he said.
“As long as you can keep up, you’re still as good as you ever were.”
Whether that would be a formal role once Smith finally hangs up the boots remains to be seen, through that is now at least another two ears away.
“You’d be silly not to consider him in that role,” he said
“He’s already been helping England and anyone you talk to wherever he’s always taken a very active role in that regard.
“Our discussions it’s the playing with Liam Gill moving on, he’s a very good 7 but the benefit for us is the next generation of talent coming through is how can you mentor these young guys into becoming fully-fledged professionals.”
The Reds’ other big-name 2017 recruit, Stephen Moore, is one particularly keen to reunite with former Brumbies and Wallabies teammate, if just to have an undesirable mantle handed off.
“I won’t be the oldest bloke in the squad,” he laughed.
“It’s great, he’s a legend of Australian rugby and you’ve seen even this year the guys from her UK will be able to tell you how well he’s played for Wasps.
“He’s a great addition not just for what he can do on the field but off it.”