Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham expects George Smith to get a warm reception from Canberra fans, on his first visit to the ACT in a Reds jersey.
Smith played 142 Super Rugby games for the Brumbies over 13 years and until late last year, it looked as if that would be his only Australian club.
Larkham said his former teammate wouldn’t need to worry about the crowd giving him the cold shoulder.
“He's certainly a Brumbies legend, there's no doubt about that,” he said.
“I think everyone will remember him with fond memories and he'll get a good reception from this crowd.
“We're traditionally a very vocal, passionate Brumbies-oriented crowd but I'm sure you'll see a bit of support for George on the weekend.”
Larkham admitted it was ‘surreal’ to watch Smith run around in a Reds jersey, they would be less worried about that and more about his influence on the contest.
“It's a bit strange to see George in another jersey but he's still playing some good footy," Larkham added.
“It doesn't matter where he goes - France, England, Japan and back to Super Rugby - he's a natural rugby player and I can see him playing for a number of years to come.”
Reds stand-in captain Stephen Moore will also be back in Canberra for the first time since switching to the Reds and though Moore’s split was more acrimonious, in large part due to former CEO Michael Jones, Larkham said the Wallabies skipper would be welcomed back.
“He's been playing some good footy and he's recently taken over the captaincy,” he said.
“It'll be good to have him back down here. He'll get a good response from the crowd as well,. They put in a number of good years at the Brumbies and always players to the best of their ability.
“So, there's no doubting there'll be fans who are out there supporting them on the weekend.” - Stephen Larkham
Larkham is hoping to take the field in a Brumbies legends team to take on the Reds Barbarians in Saturday’s curtain-raiser.
A calf concern stopped his first comeback attempt at this year’s Brisbane Tens and this time a coaching clash could prove a difficult obstacle, but the Brumbies mentor is hoping to make it on in the final stages of the game.
Former Wallabies hooker Jeremy Paul looks set to don the No.10 jersey in Larkham’s absence, making regular appearances for Penrith’s grade teams in the playmaking spot.
The Brumbies host the Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.