Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Jones baffled by Smith's omission

28th June 2013 15:27


George Smith Australia training session 2013

George Smith: Won't face Lions in Melbourne

Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones believes it's a mistake to leave flanker George Smith out of Australia's matchday squad for Saturday's Test against the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne.

Earlier this week, Smith revealed that he is ready for action after recovering from a knee injury. But a Wallabies spokesman revealed that Deans wanted the 110-Test veteran to complete another week of training before being considered for selection for the third and final Test in Sydney on July 6.

But Jones said he can't understand why Smith needs an extra week before playing for the Wallabies when troubled Rebels utility back Kurtley Beale was fast-tracked into the side despite playing only one Super Rugby match since March.

''I'd definitely start him,'' Jones told the Canberra Times of Smith.

''Most Test matches are won either at the start of the game or the end of the game. Particularly when you're one down in the series, you've got to get some points on early, put some pressure on the Lions.''

Jones said nobody matched Smith's ability at the breakdown. He said neither first-choice Wallabies openside flanker Michael Hooper nor back-up Liam Gill possessed the 32-year-old's match-winning skills.

''They definitely don't, I don't think there's any doubt about that," he added.

"They're both good young players and they're both moving in the right direction."

Former Wallabies flanker David Wilson echoed Jones' sentiments and said he was also surprised at Smith's omission.

Wilson believes Hooper deserved to start but felt Smith should have been included amongst the replacements.

''I thought George might have made the bench and bring him on as an impact player,'' Wilson said. ''He's certainly got the ability ... to change things.''