Veteran Wallaby Smith in Cheika’s plans

George Smith wasn’t among the French connection named in the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship squad but the Test veteran is very much part of coach Michael Cheika’s plans.

The Wallabies announced an extended 40-man squad on Thursday ahead of the series opener against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18.

Toulon-based duo Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell were named but as expected, Lyon’s Smith wasn’t.

However, Cheika revealed he’s been discussing a role at No.8 for the 34-year-old 111-Test veteran.

“I’ve spoken with George,” he said of the player widely regarded as the Wallabies’ greatest No.7.

“I’ve got a pretty clear role of how he might fit in here.

“We’re obviously blessed with sevens (openside flankers). A squad here selected without Liam Gill was a very difficult thing to do.

“George has played a lot of eight as well over in Lyon this year and I think he’s comfortable with the role we might want him to fill if necessary.

“We’ll be keeping in touch around what role he might play further down the track if any.”

Meanwhile, Mitchell admitted he thought he’d never play for the Wallabies again until the Australian Rugby Union changed its eligibility rules a few months ago.

“When I signed to go to Toulon, I was resigned to the fact my international career was over and that was part of the wrestle with making that decision,” Mitchell said.

The former NSW Waratahs winger is looking forward to playing under Cheika again, with the Wallabies going into camp on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted his good friend Giteau, who he flew to Sydney with on Thursday, has been asking plenty of questions about Cheika.

“Gits was sort of bouncing a few things off me, with my knowledge of him and what sort of gauge he could get from his conversations and things,” he said.

“It’s exciting. He (Cheika) does things differently but I think what he does is he gets the most out of players and not only that, he brings the boys together.”

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