Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle has led a chorus of praise from across the Australian Rugby community after George Smith announced his retirement from professional Rugby today.
Smith’s 20-year professional playing career saw him play at eight clubs across the globe, including the Brumbies – where he won two Super Rugby titles, and the Queensland Reds.
The powerful flanker also enjoyed stints with Bristol, and Wasps (England), Suntory (Japan), and Lyon, Stade Français and Toulon (France).
At an International level, Smith ended his career fifth on the all-time list of appearances in the gold jersey with 111 Tests and was a two-time John Eales Medallist (2002 and 2008).
Smith made his debut for the Qantas Wallabies at Stade de France in Paris in 2000 and played his last Test for Australia against the British & Irish Lions at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in 2013. He also racked up 164 Vodafone Super Rugby appearances with the Brumbies and Reds.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “On behalf of the Australian Rugby community I extend my congratulations to George on what has been an amazing career.
“George belongs in that rare category of player that could turn the course of a game in an instant with a crucial turnover, a powerful run or a big defensive play.
“He was universally respected by his teammates and opponents and has been a huge presence in the clubs he has represented all over the world, as well as on the international stage with the Wallabies.”
General Manager, Classic Wallabies, Justin Harrison said: “On behalf of the Classic Wallabies I pass on our congratulations to George on his remarkable Rugby career.
“I, like many, had the great privilege of playing alongside George and I know every time you played with him you knew you were playing alongside one of our greatest players and hair styles.
“George has inspired a whole generation of Australian rugby supporters to pick up a ball and play the game.
“We are richer for having had the opportunity to witness George playing in a gold Wallaby jersey.
“We now welcome George to the Classic Wallabies and we ask that he keeps one pair of boots for his first Classics capped match.”
A product of Sydney’s northern beaches, Smith rapidly rose through the junior ranks at Sydney club side Manly before then-Brumbies coach Eddie Jones signed Smith as an 18-year old.
The following season Smith made his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies, scored in the Super Rugby final loss to the Crusaders before becoming Wallaby number 764 on the end-of-year Spring Tour.
As well as winning the inaugural John Eales Medal as the Wallabies Players’ Player, and repeating that feat in 2008, Smith also claimed 10 Brumbies Players’ Player awards during his 12-year stay in Canberra.