Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Smith keeping World Cup dream alive

George Smith has refused to give up hope of reaching his first World Cup in eight years with Australia, some five years on from his Test retirement.

Wasps flanker Smith will be on stand-by for the Wallabies at next month's World Cup, admitting his chances of making Michael Cheika's main squad remain "a long shot".

The 35-year-old has told Australia coach Cheika he will be ready if called however, drawing on past experience in keeping his options open.

Smith retired from Test rugby in 2010 only to reverse that decision and face the British and Irish Lions with Australia three years on.

"I had a brief conversation with Michael prior to coming to Wasps and in that he wanted to know if I had the desire to play for the Wallabies again," Smith told Press Association Sport.

"I told him I would be keen if I was considered for selection, and that's basically where it is at this stage.

"He understands I'll be working hard here at Wasps and the only thing that's in my control is the way I train and fulfil my requirements with my new club.

"But if the opportunity to represent the Wallabies came along again I wouldn't turn it down."

Cheika will name his 31-man World Cup squad on Friday, with 2003 World Cup finalist Smith not expecting to be included.

"I think I'm realistic in knowing I haven't been part of the Rugby Championship or Bledisloe Cup games, so it's a long shot," said Smith.

"Michael knows if there was a spot for me I would be ready to fulfil that.

"I think they know me well enough that I'd be ready if the opportunity was there."

Smith featured at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups with the Wallabies but was ineligible for selection in 2011 owing to his stint in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath.

The foraging flanker moved on to Toulon and Lyon before joining Wasps this summer, and remains in such high regard among the Wallabies that not even veteran status would deter boss Cheika turning to him in an injury crisis.

Wasps will face Samoa at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on Saturday, September 5, both sides benefiting from a warm-up battle, and Smith is intrigued to see his new club face a full Test line-up.

"I can train hard here with Wasps and put myself in the best shape possible, and that's to be completely ready for the season ahead with Wasps," said Smith, speaking as Wasps launched their new kit.

"But if an opportunity also arose with the Wallabies, and if they need my assistance, I'd be ready.

"Australia have been building well, starting from the Brumbies and Waratahs being competitive in Super Rugby, then carrying that on into Test matches they've played in the Rugby Championship.

"I think the players will be pretty excited about playing Samoa, an international team at that level and to see where we rate against a team preparing for a World Cup.

"That will be a good indication of where we are at this stage.

"It's building nicely and there's a good level, so I'm excited to be here and see what the season holds with Wasps."

:: George Smith was speaking at the launch of Wasps' new Under Armour kit for the 2015/16 season which will be worn in the Singha 7s at the Ricoh Arena this Friday


From Belfast Telegraph