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Greg Growden
Greg Growden | Columnist Index
After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Australian rugby
George Smith must play for Wallabies
Greg Growden
March 25, 2013

Memo Australian Rugby Union (ARU) board members: drop everything; make it your priority to do everything you can to ensure George Smith is eligible for the Wallabies to play against the British & Irish Lions. After all, this is a time when Australia's rugby team needs all the experience, all the nous, it can muster- especially with one-time Test captain favourite David Pocock a spectator for the rest of the season.

Sure there are tricky hurdles to overcome. As Smith is on a 12-week stint with the Brumbies before going back to the Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, he is technically ineligible for the Wallabies as the International Rugby Board (IRB) stipulates that a player can be contracted only to one country.

However, as Smith has been such a long-time servant of Australian rugby, surely a case can be made to the IRB to allow him to return to the Test ranks. All it requires is those at the ARU with IRB links to start lobbying, or even just get Smith released from his Japanese contract.

Thankfully at least the ARU is preparing for such a mission, with chief executive Bill Pulver saying he won't be surprised if Wallabies coach Robbie Deans approaches him with a request to see what can be done to get Smith back in the Test fold. This is as it should be, as reported on ESPN Scrum on March 3.

Smith's return to the Brumbies has been spectacular, with him being close to their best player every time he has taken the field. The Brumbies may have lost to the Stormers in Cape Town on the weekend, but Smith remained unstoppable.

Smith continues to hold certain poise; and with Liam Gill and Michael Hooper yet to convince that they have the Test No. 7 jersey in their grasp, the 32-year-old shows he has the fitness to return to the Test arena. While they're at it, the ARU officials should also be checking to see whether Brumbies No. 8 Fotu Auelea wants to be sighted in the green and gold. He has similarly been dynamic.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
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