When the Wallabies squad heard George Smith was on their rooms list on Sunday, they weren’t sure whether the evergreen flanker was coaching or set to pull on the jersey.
Smith, 36, has linked up with the national squad this week as breakdown coach, helping out the new backrowers.
His form in Super Rugby with the Reds, though, had some questioning what his role might be, skipper Stephen Moore said.
“The boys saw his name on the rooms list when we arrived at the hotel and some of the guys were asking whether he was here to play or coach,” he said.
“I think it's obviously something Cheik's spoken about, bringing guys like that in who may be have some aspirations to coach.
“I know George is obviously still playing so it's a little bit different but I think he's done some coaching before around the breakdown and he's come in to do a little bit of work in that area.
“He's obviously an expert himself in that part of the game.
“It’s such an important part these days in how you play it and how you use it to your advantage. He's already done some work with some of the lads and that'll continue today.”
Smith has ventured into the coaching arena before, working with England’s Eddie Jones last year, and has made no secret of a desire to progress to the next level.
The 111-Test backrower said he was simply there to help where he was needed.
“I guess I've got to draw from my own experience and what I'd do in different situations,” he said.
“It may not be the right decision but I want to see how mentally they're thinking about their approaches to different situations and whether it be from a tackle and then into an effort area after that, whether they tackle or whether they clean out or whether they slow the ball down, just different areas to what happens after you do a tackle, making sure they're thinking three steps ahead rather than one.”
No. 8, Smith's Reds teammate, Scott Higginbotham said Smith’s knowledge and influence was invaluable.
“You can't not listen to him, he's obviously still a current player and still performing at international level,”he said.
“He's great to have around and great to have a bit of insight from him around his game and that breakdown area.
“He's going to play for another 10 years at the rate he's going (but) it seems like he's looking to transition to that coaching role sometime down the track and it's obviously something he's really good at.”
One of the newest Wallabies, Richard Hardwick, said he was trying to ask Smith as much as he could.
“We did a breakdown drill yesterday and this morning he came up to me and we just conversed and I was just picking his brains quite a lot which is pretty awesome as well because his style of rugby's changed a lot and I'd like to see how he's adapted to all the new law,” he said.
“Since he's started the laws have changed around the breakdown so much so I've just been picking his brain and seen how he's been doing that.
“Just to have that experience around this is awesome.”
Reds coach Nick Stiles was in camp on Tuesday, along with all the Super Rugby coaches after meeting with Michael Cheika on Monday night and said Smith’s talent for mentoring was obvious.
"That was one of the reasons we were really keen to get George to the Reds, we were really excited about the young backrowers we’ve got.
“The knowledge he’s learned over a long period of time was something we thought was very valuable and he’s been great.”
The Wallbies take on Scotland on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.