George Smith tipped to start against Lions

CHRIS DUTTON
Last updated 16:53 03/07/2013
George Smith
Getty Images
READY FOR RETURN: George Smith is available for selection in the Wallabies test team for the series decider.

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Wallabies legend George Smith will make an international comeback in Australia's biggest game in a decade when he reclaims the No 7 jersey to chase glory against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday night.

Smith will get a historic recall to the test starting XV and become the first Wallabies player to play against the Lions twice in his career.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will unveil a back-row reshuffle when he names his team on Thursday, with Smith starting at openside flanker, Michael Hooper moving to the bench and Liam Gill dropping out of the 23-man squad to make way for Ben McCalman.

Smith hasn't played a test since retiring from Australian rugby in 2010.

After earning his 111th Wallabies cap in the series deciding test against the Lions, Smith will retire from international rugby again.

The ACT Brumbies called Smith out of rugby wilderness earlier this year to bolster their Super Rugby campaign and now Deans is putting faith in the 32-year-old to clinch a historic victory in Sydney.

The champion flanker missed the first two tests after injuring his knee in a Brumbies clash against the NSW Waratahs on May 18.

But with his teammates describing him as a ''freak'', Smith turned a planned 12-week rehabilitation into just seven weeks to be available for the third test.

Deans decided not to inject him in the Wallabies' 16-15 victory in Melbourne last weekend.

But with the series on the line and the Lions gaining the upper hand at the breakdown, the two-time John Eales medal winner will add experience and starch to the forward pack.

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- Canberra Times

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