George Smith: The Biography
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George Smith is one of the greatest players Australian rugby has ever produced, and certainly one of the all-time best, open-side flankers in the world arena. After becoming the fourth Wallaby and the 10th in the history of the game worldwide to reach a century of Tests, Smith went on to earn 110 Test caps for Australia. Throughout his career he bedazzled crowds—and more importantly, the opposition—with the tactical brilliance, technique, and physicality in his game. A relentless and supremely skillful terrier, he was spectacularly targeted by opponents as the player they had to close down but through all such storms Smith responded heroically. His glorious career included numerous best and fairest player awards in both Test and Super rugby where he played his entire career with the Canberra-based Brumbies. He also played in two World Cups, in 2003 and 2007, and starred in numerous Test wins in the Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations series, as well as in the Wallabies' stunning series victory over the British and Irish Lions when they toured to Australia in 2001. He became the 75th Wallabies captain, leading Australia for the first time in the 2007 World Cup against Canada in Bordeaux and on a number of occasions afterwards. But for Smith, an errant youth who'd been seduced by a bad crowd on Sydney's northern beaches, life could have turned out disastrously, barely before it started. He was raised in a Tongan family as one of nine siblings and after his expulsion from Balgowlah Boys High School it was this Tongan heritage, in the end, which proved to be his salvation. The dramatic road he's followed since, throughout a stellar amateur and professional rugby career, has been littered with pot holes. Some he fell into. Others he avoided. But, as in rugby, in life it's how one responds that really counts.
rugby crowds in the Republic, the monolithic stadia that were all built in the halcyon years of the apartheid era, of the lingering racism and rampant crime rates, and the danger to the unsuspecting visitor in public. “I don’t think I ever felt unsafe. I was just more aware of things, my surroundings. I listened to our manager and the guys who had been there previously on where to go.” But he admits he still wasn’t really “aware of what South Africa was like as a country. I didn’t really
George recalls that “he was actually one of the first people who shook hands with me [there].” Quinzo had a knack of knowing what a player needed without them having to ask. It was appreciated by all of the Brumbies players. That it was Quinlivan who chose the award’s 2010 recipient made Smith cherish it even more: “I was touched. It was nice to get it because he has always been there. He has always been a close friend.” George Smith has always enjoyed a punt. After he retired, it wasn’t
better terms—and the facilitation of further third-party sponsorship. As well, George was also enjoying the coaching of Robbie Deans at the Wallabies and, with the return to Canberra of Matt Giteau from the Western Force and Josh Valentine from the Waratahs, found himself to be enthusiastic about the Brumbies Super 14 title prospects. All in all, he started to think that Australian rugby offered greater security after all. The pressure on him to re-sign continued through the off-season
was right to move on: “It was time. He has given great service. The time was right for him to experience something else in his life.” And as long-time rugby television commentator Gordon Bray, who called George’s Test debut against France from Paris on the 2000 spring tour, remarked, his timing was that of a true champion: “I was surprised. He was still very close to the peak of his powers. He was maybe just slightly over the summit and slightly on the descent, but only slightly. But that
the benefits: “I feel like we’ve got time back on our hands again here. I said to George, ‘Do you feel like we’re not running around like back in Sydney and even in Canberra?’ At a certain point you felt there were never enough hours in a day to get everything done, whereas here I love the pace. It’s definitely slower and there’s more time.” Louise saw that George was savouring the change too. Every morning for the first month of their stay, he would sit outside near the pool to eat his