Damian Paul Smith
- 707Wallaby Number
Damian Smith was a strapping, long striding winger whose speed and vigour made him a formidable foe during his time with Queensland and Australia.
At 188 cms and 101 kgs Smith was larger than the average Australian winger of his time. He was educated outside of the mainstream rugby schools’ system at Clairvaux McKillop College, Brisbane and played his junior rugby for Clairvaux/Brothers and later Souths through to the U16s.
After school Smith moved to Armidale to study commerce at the University of New England. During his time there, Smith represented New South Wales and NSW Country at both U19 and U21 levels. While playing in the Armidale competition, Smith was spotted by the Australian Institute of Sport’s Rugby Director, David Clark, and invited into the train-on squad for the Queensland Reds.
In 1992 John Connolly plucked Smith out of grade football at Souths to make his Queensland debut against Canterbury at Ballymore. When Paul Carozza tore a hamstring in the 1993 one-off Test loss to New Zealand in Dunedin, Smith was called up to make his Test debut against South Africa in Sydney.
In 1995 Smith went to his first Rugby World Cup and he provided one of the few highlights in an otherwise disappointing tournament for Australia. Trailing 6-13 early in the second half of the quarter-final against England, Michael Lynagh put up a high ball that came down just short of the tryline. Smith raced through, leapt above Mike Catt to regather the kick, crashed to the turf and bounced over the line to score a remarkable try. A shoulder injury cruelled Smith’s 1996 and allowed the formidable duo of Joe Roff and Ben Tune to firmly entrench themselves as the starting wingers, a combination that held through to the winning 1999 Rugby World Cup side.
Damian Smith played 21 Tests for Australia and scored 10 Test tries in his five-year international career.
Smith won his first Test cap as the run-on XV left winger in the 1st Test 12-19 loss to South Africa in Sydney. He played in four of the year’s remaining five Tests with Alistair Murdoch preferred for the 1st Test against France in Bordeaux. Smith scored his first Test try against Canada in Calgary.
Smith started on the left wing in all six Tests of the season.
Smith played seven of the Wallabies’ eight Tests and was selected to his first Rugby World Cup. He played in three of Australia’s four matches during the tournament and scored a memorable try from a Michael Lynagh high ball in the 22-25 quarter-final loss to England.
Smith missed the entire Test season after he ruptured his rotator cuff during Queensland’s round nine Super Rugby win over Auckland.
Smith won his final three caps in 1998, the first two off the bench during the Tri Nations and the third as the starting left winger in the Rugby World Cup qualifier, 66-20 defeat of Fiji at Parramatta. A wrist injury sustained in the Fiji Test kept Smith out of the two remaining qualifiers against Tonga and Manu Samoa as well as the northern hemisphere tour to France and England.