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Australia set to trust old head George Smith in 3rd Test

Gatty, take note.

Smith on tour with Australia in 2009/
Smith on tour with Australia in 2009/
Image: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

WALLABIES COACH ROBBIE Deans says he may recall veteran forward George Smith for Saturday’s deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Smith missed out on a spot in the final 23-man squad for last weekend’s 16-15 win in Melbourne, with Deans indicating the 100-Test forward was not yet fit enough to play.

But with another week of training with the rest of the squad now under his belt, Smith is looming as a shock starter in the back-row at ANZ Stadium.

Deans said there would be ‘surprises’ with the series on the line, with Smith’s experience and explosiveness at the breakdown seen as vital to the Wallabies chances of victory.

Value

“He’s got a week of training under his belt now and got some background with us so yes he is (available),” Deans said of Smith. “He’s certainly physically fit enough to be able to be considered for selection.

“It’s good to have him in the group. Even last week when he wasn’t out there on the playing field and wasn’t preparing to play, he was still preparing with the group. He offers good value for us.”

Smith has not played since injuring his knee in the Brumbies’ loss to the Waratahs on May 18. If the 32-year-old does get a start he will run out alongside skipper James Horwill, who said he was relieved to have been cleared of stamping to take his spot in the side.

No rematch of this little duel from 2001. Phil Walter/EMPICS Sport

Horwill learned of his fate yesterday morning following a marathon hearing the previous night, but said he was now focused on getting the win to help Australia retain the Tom Richards Cup.

“I love what I do and it means a hell of a lot to me to represent my country and not only to represent it but to lead it in what is arguably the biggest game in this country since the Rugby World Cup final in 2003,” Horwill said.

“I’m excited at that opportunity and now we can focus on the game, which is important. “I feel very vindicated by the way it’s gone.” With both the opening two games going right down to the wire, Horwill expects a similarly tight tussle on Saturday night.

“They’ve both been pretty epic struggles with not a lot separating both teams,” the skipper said. “I can’t see Saturday night being any different. “You need to take your opportunities when they’re there because you’ve seen in the first two games you don’t get many.

“You have got to be smart the way you go about your footy. “There’s opportunities that present themselves and the team that makes the most of those more often than not comes out on the right side of the scoreboard.”

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