Wasps will allow their ex-Wallabies flanker George Smith to assist Eddie Jones’ England as long as it does not affect his club duties.
With 111 caps to his name, Smith is one of the game’s most experienced opensides – a position that has been troublesome for England since Neil Back retired from national duties in 2003. Chris Robshaw wore the No.7 shirt during Stuart Lancaster’s reign but Jones is adamant he is a blindside so England will be looking for a short-term fix at openside in the forthcoming Six Nations.
Jones has already met Smith over a cup of coffee – Jones coached Smith during his time at the Wallabies – and when asked last week if he would be keen on bringing Smith into the England set-up to assist with their back-rowers, he said it would be up to Wasps. Their director of rugby Dai Young said Smith – who is already working with James Haskell – would be allowed to assist Jones as long as it did not impinge on his club duties.
“I wouldn’t stand in his way,” Young said in the Daily Mail. “I know that Eddie has a relationship with George going back a long way. We are here to support England and their management and if we can help, we will. If George could be of assistance – rather than being an assistant – helping the national team do well, and it doesn’t affect what we are doing, then I’ve got no problem with it.”
Haskell is the favourite to start at openside for England in their Six Nations opener against Scotland and he is benefiting from Smith’s knowledge.
“You don’t have 111 caps by accident – in a position where Australia are famous for producing world-class players,” Young added. “He is humble so he’s not going to push himself forward, but his contact-area skills are phenomenal, he knows the game inside-out and knows the short-cuts you need to know.
“James always wants to learn and he has been like a sponge around George, soaking up everything, like all our players. That was half the point bringing George here. On the field itself, but off it too, to pass on tips to others; how to behave as a professional, what kind of work you need to put in, not just to be the best at Wasps, or the best in the country, but also the best in the world. George has fulfilled that role for us.”
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Wasps will allow George Smith to assist England
ESPN.com – RUGBY