George Benjamin Smith
- 764Wallaby Number
George Smith was one of the most influential players of his era and an all-time great on the world rugby stage. Few players can lay claim to the fact that they changed their chosen game but Smith did just that. He revolutionized the way rugby was played through his constant, competitive presence at the breakdown.
Of Tongan extraction, Smith had speed, strength and aggression. He was a fearless pilferer and a damaging tackler.
Born in Sydney, Smith was educated firstly at Balgowlah Boys’ High School and then Cromer High School from where he was selected for Australian Schools in both 1997 and 1998/99.
Smith created quite an impression on the broader rugby community when he debuted for the ACT Brumbies in 2000 as a dreadlocked teen. He then played a starring role for Australia U21s when they finished third at the world youth tournament in New Zealand. From there it was only a question of when, not if, that Smith would become a mainstay in the Wallabies. The when happened later that same year after he was picked in the squad for the Spring Tour and then made his Test debut against France in Paris at just 20 years, 113 days.
In 2001 he celebrated his 21st birthday with a man-of-the-match performance against the British & Irish Lions in the third and deciding Test in Sydney. His career continued virtually uninterrupted from 2000 to 2009 as he missed just three Wallaby Tests when he reached his 50th cap in 2005 and just six when he played his 100th international in 2009.
Smith was selected to two Rugby World Cups, won two John Eales Medals, and retired as Australia’s most capped flanker (98) and most capped forward.
In 2012 he became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to rugby.
George Smith played 111 Tests for Australia, seven as captain, over his 14-year, 11 season international career.
Represented Australian U16s against New Zealand U16s
Represented Australian Schools against New Zealand Schools.
Represented Australian Schools against New Zealand Schools, Canada U19s, Ireland Schools, Scotland Youth, Wales Schools and England Schools.
Represented Australian U19s.
Represented Australia at the SANZAR-UAR U21 tournament. Smith won his first Test cap as the starting No.7 in the 18-13 win against France in Paris. In that match he became the first Australian to receive a yellow card on debut. Smith won a further two caps against Scotland and England.
Smith played all 11 Wallaby Tests and was the starting openside flanker in all but the final two matches. He scored his first Test try against Spain in Madrid.
Smith wore the No.7 jersey in all 10 Wallaby Tests. He won the inaugural John Eales Medal as Australian Player of the Year.
He played in the opening Test of the season against Ireland but then missed three matches due to nerve damage in his neck and left shoulder. When Smith returned to the team against New Zealand in Sydney he was selected at blindside flanker, a position he would retain for the final 10 internationals. Smith was selected to his first Rugby World Cup and started in all seven Australian matches.
Smith played all 12 Tests, the last seven of which he started at No.6.
He started the season as the incumbent blindside flanker, played No.7 in six of the opening seven Tests before a switch to No.8 for the final five internationals. Smith played his 50th Test in the 37-31 victory against France in Brisbane. He picked up a total of 13 caps for the year.
Smith won 12 caps, 9 as the run-on openside flanker.
Smith earned 11 Test caps and selection to a second Rugby World Cup. In the pool match against Canada in Bordeaux he became the 75th Wallaby to captain his country.
He played 13 internationals, predominantly at No.7, and in Robbie Deans’ debut as coach captained the side to a 34-19 victory over New Zealand in Sydney. Smith became the most capped forward in Australian rugby history when he played his 87th Test, the 16-9, 1st Test defeat of South Africa in Perth.
Smith played all 14 Tests and became the fourth Australian to reach 100 caps when he started in the 16-22, 1st Test loss to New Zealand in Auckland.
After three years abroad, with Toulon in France and Suntory in Japan, Smith returned to Australia and played his final Test, as the starting No.7, in the 3rd Test decider against the British & Irish Lions in Sydney.