Super Rugby


Smith's Back At It

By Sam Phillips -

Having spent six months on the sidelines rehabilitating a back injury, veteran flanker George Smith felt a sense of relief upon his return to Super Rugby last Saturday.

An "unstructured" 40-minute stint with Brothers the week prior was the final internal nod Smith needed to make his return for the St.George Queensland Reds, ensuring his body was ready for the rigours of Super Rugby.

"It was quite an unstructured game and I was playing on instinct, more than anything," Smith said of his return for Brothers.

"Fitness-wise I felt okay and it was more a physical thing than mental, for me.

"Just making sure that all my body mechanics were back working the right way.

"Once I was comfortable with that I was straight back into the swing of things."

There were no physical setbacks throughout the rehab process but Smith admits there were some frustrations around the delicate nature of the injury.

"It was frustrating because the nature of a disk injury is that it is really delicate.

"I hadn't done a lot of pilates before but I started doing a fair bit and it really helped.

"The Reds staff were amazing and I couldn't be happier with how I'm feeling now that I'm back."

There was also the matter of adapting to the new breakdown laws, which make it harder for players of Smith's ilk to wreak havoc at the breakdown.

"Before I was injured in Japan I played two games using the new laws.

"It does make life a bit harder but it's just about being smarter about the way you attack the breakdown.

"There's certainly still room for a guy that's constantly annoying at the breakdown but we have to try and work as a unit to try and force turnovers.

"If we all work as a unit we can still apply plenty of pressure at the breakdown."

On that front, Smith has been more than happy to lend a helping hand to the likes of Liam Wright, who has built his game in the mould of Smith's breakdown mastery.

"I try and pull a couple of guys out after training and help them with whatever it is that they want to work on," Smith said.

"I certainly don't want to force anything on them, though, but I'm more than happy to pass on any particular tip or skill in an area they feel like they need help with.

"I'm just there to try and assist them and help them with the body mechanics but most importantly, their thought process.

"That's the most important thing for me - identifying what you are going to do and why are you going into a breakdown, rather than just sticking your head in there."

With 80 minutes of Rugby now under his belt, Smith declared he is ready to return to the form that saw him claim the Pilecki Medal last season and guide the Reds back to the winners circle, having dropped their last four starts.

"The intensity just wasn't there in the first 30 minutes against the Chiefs," Smith said.

"I feel like we played well in the second half and put some good Rugby together but you can't give any team a leg up - especially New Zealand sides - in Super Rugby.

"But I think we showed in that second half that we do have the right players in the squad and that we do have fight in us.

"We just have to show that from the outset this weekend."

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