Phillip Vivers Smith
- 511Wallaby Number
Phil Smith was a tall, long-striding centre three-quarter of great ability whose international rugby record was compromised by injury and ended by a switch to rugby league.
A fast, exciting runner of the football and a sure tackler, Smith and childhood friend John Brass had careers that were closely linked from their days as opponents at primary school. The pair won selection together for representative league teams before they attended Sydney Boys’ High School and switched to rugby. They starred together at school boy level and after graduation joined forces at Randwick.
Smith did not have to wait long for a first taste of representative rugby when, in 1966, he was selected to play for Sydney against Australian Services. Eight days later he wore the New South Wales jersey for the first time when he debuted against Queensland. Smith and Brass played in the Shute Shield grand final however Smith suffered a dislocated shoulder that prevented him from leaving with the Fifth Wallabies tour to Britain. Once healed Smith took his place on the tour and played in 16 uncapped matches.
The following year Smith played an ‘absolute blinder’ for Sydney against Ireland, scored three tries and was rewarded with a Test debut against the All Blacks to mark the New Zealand Union's 75th Jubilee. Unfortunately that debut was marred by injury when Smith dislocated his shoulder in the first half. He ‘gallantly returned’ with the shoulder heavily strapped and played with great courage on the left wing for the remainder of the match.
From that debut Smith played eight consecutive Tests until the first Test of the 1969 tour to South Africa when he blew the ligaments in his knee. Prior to the injury, Smith had been honoured with the captaincy for the uncapped match against Rhodesia in Bulawayo. Upon his return to Australia, Smith switched codes to play rugby league for South Sydney. Tragically Smith passed away in 2000, aged 53, when struck down by cancer.
Phil Smith played eight Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Smith won his first Test cap at outside centre alongside John Brass in the 9-29 loss to New Zealand in Wellington.
Smith started all five Tests at outside centre. He partnered Brass in the 1st Test, 11-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. and against France, Ireland and Scotland. Barry Honan played inside centre in the 2nd Test, 18-19 loss to New Zealand after Brass dislocated his shoulder in the Sydney Test.
Smith won his final two caps outside of Geoff Shaw in the 16-19 loss to Wales at the S.C.G. and paired with Honan in the 1st Test, 11-30 defeat to South Africa at Ellis Park.