'Had my swan song' - George Smith
August 6, 2013
George Smith says two more years in Japan "will see me out" © Getty Images
George Smith has no desire to play again for the Brumbies despite believing the Super Rugby runners-up's effort this season to reach the final can be a catalyst for success - perhaps as soon as 2014.
Smith played for the Brumbies this season on loan from Japanese Top League club Suntory Sungoliath, signed by Jake White to help the coach instil winning "Brumbies values and culture", but his dream of ending his Super Rugby career with a third title went down when the Chiefs won the final at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
"The positive for me is that I've come into a Brumbies group that is developing well, maturing well," Smith said of players for whom a Super Rugby final appearance - in the club's first finals campaign since 2004 - was little more than a pipe dream when he re-joined.
"It is great to see the challenges that were put to them this season, especially the last few weeks," he told Rugby Gold and The Australian. "They have stepped up. Unfortunately, we didn't get there. I hope this is the catalyst for them to win the title next year.
"Reflecting on the season, I think the team has done extremely well. Throughout the season you have seen great performances from the team. We had a couple of draws and losses in the regular season, and the way the boys came back and ground out some good wins was fantastic.
Smith was named man of the match in the Brumbies' historic win over the Bulls in the Super Rugby semi-final victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, and he was outstanding again against the Chiefs, displaying form that showed exactly why ESPNscrum correspondent Greg Growden named him Australian Player of the Year in his Growdies awards. But Smith, 33, said the loss, devastating as it was for him and his team-mates after leading the final in Hamilton for a little more than 60 minutes "doesn't give me a burning desire to come back and do it again".
"I've known this was going to be my last year with the Brumbies whether it was a supporting role to David Pocock and Colby [Faingaa] or just a person who mentors players.
"It was never going to be me coming here and seeing if I can get another contract. I'm really enjoying my time at Suntory. I'm grateful for the support they have given me. It is not me wanting to come back again. I've had my swan song to play in a final and reaffirm that I can play at this level and do quite well. I feel I've come here, been a positive influence and that's all you can ask for."
Smith is contracted to Suntory for the next Japanese season and is negotiating to extend his contract for another two seasons.
"That will probably see me out," he said.
The Brumbies dreams died in Hamilton (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup