Veteran flanker George Smith confirmed in Australia XV

Last Updated: 06/07/13 10:22am

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George Smith: Returns to the international stage after three years

George Smith: Returns to the international stage after three years

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Australia head coach Robbie Deans has confirmed veteran flanker George Smith will face the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's decider in Sydney.

The 32-year-old will make his first international appearance in three years, with Smith having forced his way into contention after returning to the Brumbies on loan from Japanese side Suntory.

Smith, who played in the 2001 series against the Lions during a 110-Test career, replaces Michael Hooper in the starting XV in the only change made by Deans.

"He's class, isn't he?" said Deans.

"To have achieved what George has throughout his career, and return to play at the highest level, after such a long break, is a testament to the quality of the man, both as a person, and as a player."

Hooper had won the No 7 jersey in the first two Tests but he now drops to the bench, with Australia Under-20s captain Liam Gill omitted from the squad completely.

"The decision to go with George in no way reflects any dissatisfaction with the way either Michael or Liam have played," Deans added.

Tough

"But it has been a tough series - the first two games have been rugged, especially at the breakdown, and we feel that the combination of experience and fresh legs that George brings is the right way to go for this week.

"His expertise in the contact zone, where timing, judgment and physicality is everything, is going to be critical. Being able to call on George allows us to lighten the load on Michael while retaining the ability to inject him into what is sure to be a fast-paced and highly physical contest."

As expected Deans has also opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, with versatile Western Force forward Ben McCalman coming in for Rob Horne.

Smith returns for Wallabies

Deans said: "Both sets of fans have been fantastic, the atmosphere in ground amazing, but with 80,000 seats available this weekend; this is our chance to drown out the sea of red.

"I encourage all Australians - both those going to the game and those watching it around the country - to get into gold and get behind your Wallabies."

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 (capt), 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

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