Already blessed with two world-class openside flankers, Phil Waugh wants the Wallabies to add a third to the mix – 34-year-old George Smith.
Former Wallabies No.7 Waugh knows Smith better than most, having shared a career-long rivalry with the Australian great from age 14.
The Australian Rugby Union’s relaxing of its selection policy has opened the door for overseas-based players with 60 Test caps like Smith to return to the Test arena.
Despite Australia boasting outstanding No.7s Michael Hooper and David Pocock, Waugh wants Smith back in gold ahead of the World Cup in the UK later this year.
“He’s got that experience … 111 Tests, he’s played in two World Cups … I think George Smith might be the bolter,” Waugh said on Fox Sports.
“He’s such a good guy to have in your team. If you turn around in the changing room, and you see George Smith there, you get a lot of comfort.”
“For me, he’s probably going to be the greatest beneficiary here.”
Smith is currently playing for French club Lyon and hasn’t played Test rugby since his cameo comeback for Australia’s series loss to the British and Irish Lions in 2013 after returning temporarily from Japan to replace the injured Pocock at the Brumbies.
Surprisingly, Waugh doesn’t like reigning European player of the year Matt Giteau’s chances of returning to the Wallabies.
“In terms of our halves, I think Bernard Foley, (Christian) Lealiifano, (Matt) Toomua, Kurtley Beale … we are pretty good there,” Waugh said.
“Obviously Matt Giteau has been sensational over in France but in terms of those 10 and 12 positions, those four players are playing very, very well.”
Waugh does however see room in the national set up for his former Waratahs teammate Drew Mitchell, who is playing with Giteau at Toulon in France.
“There may be some openings there because we don’t have the depth of wingers with real speed and finishing ability like Drew Mitchell has,” he said.
Mitchell believes Giteau would be a great asset for the Wallabies at the World Cup.
He cited Giteau’s intimate knowledge of northern hemisphere rugby as a key ingredient, especially with the Wallabies facing a tough World Cup pool including Wales and England.
“To have those regular big games against players from those nations will be the real advantage for someone like Matt Giteau if he was to be included in the squad,” Mitchell told Fox Sports.