Super Rugby


4/13/2017

Congrats George


By Sam Phillips

 

George Smith cracks 150 Super Rugby caps this weekend, a milestone that just two other Australian players have reached before him.


In a career that is among Australia's greatest ever, Smith's journey to this point started in the cold reaches of Canberra and traversed through France, England and Japan before he landed in Brisbane this year.

He may not have the dreadlocks that Australia fell in love with in the early 2000s but by the numbers, he is still as important as ever to a his team.

The 36-year-old hasn't received the accolades he typically does in 2017 but his statistics suggest he is still at a level on par with the form that saw him picked for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

Smith averages more metres with ball in hand than he did in 2013 despite having the same number of carries (8), beats 1.5 tackles per game and is still managing 1.3 turnovers per game, compared to 1.7 in 2013.

He is not making as many tackles as he once did but he still makes them at an 86 percent clip.

By those numbers, Smith's longevity is unquestionable.

But at 36, he is forced to be wise in managing his workload on field.

“I see things differently than how I did in the past, that’s how I’ve been able to go for this long, I think," he said.

“Whether that’s knowing when to hit a breakdown and wasting energy rather than setting the defensive line, for me, it’s about finding the right balance."

While he's still on top of his game, Smith understands the importance of nurturing the next generation of Reds as he enters the final stages of his career.

The young squad need his wisdom more than ever, as Queensland frantically try to snap a six game losing streak against the Kings.

“For me, I understand that coming into a team with very little knowledge of how the group and how they play, it was always going to be a question of how it would gel," Smith said.

“I understood that it would take a bit for me to fit into the team and I feel like over the last couple of weeks I have found my place here.

“We just have to be honest as a team first and foremost and we have to be honest with ourselves about our performances.”

It's customary when players reach a milestone such as this that they lead the team out onto the pitch, but Smith isn't ordinary by anyone's standards. 

As he has done throughout his career, Smith will be the last to take the field for the Reds - it's the sort of team first attitude that has him held in such high regard by the Rugby community.