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Rugby | British Lions

George Smith © Gallo Images

Deans looks to veteran Smith for Lions tests



Veteran flanker George Smith says it would be an honour to restart his Wallaby career against the touring British and Irish Lions this year after coach Robbie Deans confirmed a recall could happen.

The 110-test veteran, who has been granted a loan extension by his Japanese club until the end of the Super Rugby season, was outstanding as the ACT Brumbies clung on for a 19-19 draw against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.

Interest in Smith's availability has intensified following a season-ending knee injury to Wallabies flanker David Pocock and Deans has indicated he wants the 32-year-old backrower in his squad to face the Lions.

Smith is contracted to Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, who have agreed to allow him to remain in Australia until the end of the Brumbies' Super Rugby season, possibly to the August 3 final.

Players are ineligible to play for the Wallabies if they are foreign-based, but the contract extension could reopen the door for Smith.

Asked after Saturday's match whether he wanted to play test rugby again, he told reporters: "I wouldn't refuse it. It is a huge honour to play for the Wallabies.

"It is such a huge occasion playing against the Lions but we're talking about hypotheticals."

Deans confirmed his interest in selecting Smith, telling Fox Sports after Saturday's Super Rugby match: "We've traded texts and we intend to talk tonight so we'll see what comes of that.

"I don't know that the (Australian Rugby Union) has to change anything now that's he's essentially contracted to play in Australia... he's not a foreign player, so to speak.

"The critical question is whether George wants to do it. He's a class act.

"It'd be great to be able to consider George. But it comes down very much to what he wants to do. I don't want to pre-empt it because it may have to be cleared from further up the food chain. But we'll have a conversation."

Smith, who played against the Lions when they last toured Australia in 2001, said work still needs to be done by the ARU to ensure he has the blessing of Suntory to line up in the coming three-test series against the Lions.

Smith played his last test for the Wallabies against Wales in Cardiff in November 2009.

Deans will finalise a 31-man test squad on June 11 ahead of the three tests against the Lions from June 22 to July 6.

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