The Queensland Reds have scored a major coup, signing Wallabies great George Smith to a two-season Super Rugby deal.
The 35-year-old Smith will join the Reds for the 2017 and 2018 campaigns, while also playing for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan’s Top League.
The 111-Test veteran is a direct replacement for departing openside flanker Liam Gill, who is off to French club Toulon at the end of the season.
Smith adds his vast experience to a Reds side that could jump back into contention next year, following the recruitment of Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and fringe Wallaby back-rower Leroy Houston.
There are also persistent rumours playmaker Quade Cooper could return to Ballymore.
Reds general manager Daniel Herbert was thrilled with the signing of Brumbies legend Smith.
“George is one of the greats of the modern game,” he said.
“He is still one of the best number sevens in the world on current form and just took out the Rugby Players Association Players Player award in England and helped lift Wasps to an English Premiership semi-final this season.
“His uncompromising professionalism has helped him achieve almost every imaginable individual and team accolade the game offers.”
Smith will turn 36 next month and 37 midway through his first season with the Reds but said his body was still in good shape.
A coaching role awaits when Smith’s playing career concludes, most likely at the end of his new contract.
“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,” Smith said.
“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.”