MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Veteran flanker George Smith has been called into the Wallabies camp as a breakdown specialist coach and to mentor the next generation of loose forwards ahead of Saturday’s test against Scotland in Sydney.
Australia coach Michael Cheika has brought in a slew of new back rowers including New South Wales Waratahs number eight Jack Dempsey and blindside flanker Ned Hanigan, who made his test debut against Fiji on Saturday, along with Western Force openside Richard Hardwick.
With regular number seven David Pocock taking a year’s sabbatical and Sean McMahon injured, Smith said he was relishing the chance to pass on some of the knowledge accumulated over the course of a 111-cap career.
“I am here to assist wherever possible, to help around the breakdown and whatnot. That’s my role,” the 36-year-old said at training in Sydney, in comments published by local media on Tuesday.
”I am in here just mentoring some of the players.
“It’s great to be back in the sanctum of the Wallabies, it’s such a privilege to be here.”
Cheika has long said he wants Smith, renowned as one of the world’s best ball-pilferers when in his pomp, to take on a mentoring role as he rebuilds his team ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Smith returned to Australia this year after a stint playing in England, joining Super Rugby side Queensland Reds on a two-year deal.
He will also return to Japan to play with Suntory at the end of the current season, so he was quick to dismiss the idea of putting his hand up for Wallabies selection.
But he was soaking up the lessons doled out by Cheika and his assistants at camp.
“What I am enjoying is how the coaches operate, understanding how they do things behind the scenes,” Smith said.
”That’s really interesting to me. How they formulate game plans and how they put things together. I am enjoying that part.
“Have I seen myself as a coach? No, I haven‘t, but I can definitely see myself as a mentor or a specialist coach.”
Australia meet Scotland at Sydney Football Stadium, a repeat of the 2015 World Cup quarter-final which the Wallabies won 35-34 in a cliff-hanger.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly