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Ageless George Smith agrees return to Australia with the Reds

The 35-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Brisbane franchise.

GEORGE SMITH HAS signed a two-year deal with the Queensland Reds for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.

The contract with the Australian franchise will also allow the legendary openside flanker to play two Top League seasons with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.

Wasps v Leinster Rugby - European Champions Cup - Pool Five - Ricoh Arena Smith was exceptional for Wasps. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

35-year-old Smith has just come off an incredible season for Dai Young’s Wasps that saw him nominated for the Premiership’s player of the season award. The flanker won the Rugby Players’ Association Players’ Player award for his remarkable campaign.

Having proven that he still has a huge amount to offer on the pitch, the 111-times capped former Wallaby will now return to his native land to join the Reds, who are currently being co-interim head coached by Matt O’Connor.

Smith’s professional career began with the Brumbies in Canberra, where he spent 10 seasons from 2000 until 2010 before a move to Toulon. The openside – who is one of the all-time breakdown greats – had spells with Stade Français, Lyon and Suntory thereafter, as well as a successful return for the Brumbies in 2013.

The seemingly ageless Sydney native recently served a stint as a coaching advisor for Eddie Jones’ England, aiding their breakdown work as they secured a Grand Slam this year.

The move to the Reds will see Smith perform a mentoring role with the franchise’s young talent, as well as featuring on the pitch himself.

Source: queenslandreds/YouTube

“The body feels great and the experience in England has been outstanding,” said Smith of the move back to Australia. “I’m really looking forward to playing Super Rugby again. I want to make a positive difference wherever I go and I feel I can do this with the Reds.

“My family and I are relocating to Brisbane for the long term and so the opportunity to make a very strong contribution to the Queensland Reds and also the broader Queensland community is something we are really excited about as a family. They are building a really strong playing list and I believe I can make a big impression.

The Reds have discussed their desire for me to also help mentor some of the young players and to share what I have learnt across my career with the next generation.

“That is one of the more exciting parts about coming to the Reds. I would like to personally acknowledge and thank Suntory Sungoliath for allowing me to return to Super Rugby and the Reds in between our Top League campaigns and endeavours in Japan.”

Smith will replace the outgoing Liam Gill as the Reds’ first-choice openside, with the 24-year-old set for a move to Top 14 club Toulon.

The Reds have also secured the signing of Australia captain and hooker Stephen Moore ahead of next season.

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Murray Kinsella

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