George Smith set to replace Michael Hooper in Australia XV
Last Updated: 03/07/13 8:29am
Australia are set to hand a sensational recall to George Smith for Saturday's decider against the British and Irish Lions in Sydney.
On the day when Brian O'Driscoll was axed from the Lions squad the Wallabies have turned to their sole survivor from the 2001 series.
According to Fox Sports the 33-year-old will get the nod ahead of Michael Hooper at openside when the side is officially announced on Thursday.
Having seen the Lions dominate the breakdown in the second Test in Melbourne, Australia coach Robbie Deans has turned to Smith - who last pulled on the gold and green jersey three years ago.
Smith's form on his return to the Brumbies - on loan from Japanese club Suntory - saw the experienced flanker move into contention for a recall.
However a knee injury ruled him out of the first Test, while he has now proved his fitness in training.
Hooper is set to drop to the bench, with Liam Gill missing out completely.
The only other change to the Australia squad is the inclusion among the replacements - with Deans set to include Ben McCalman ahead of Rob Horne.
That means Deans will gamble on a 6-2 forward heavy split on the bench in a bid to combat the Lions' power game up front.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 1 Benn Robinson, 2 Stephen Moore, 3 Ben Alexander, 4 James Horwill, 5 Kane Douglas, 6 Ben Mowen, 7 George Smith, 8 Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slippper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Michael Hooper, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Jesse Mogg