Wasps have confirmed that George Smith will be returning to Japan to join his old side Suntory Sungoliath at the end of the season.
Smith, who joined Wasps on a one-season contract for 2015/16, will return to the club he represented between 2011 and 2013.
Smith’s contribution to Wasps has been invaluable this season, using his considerable experience and talent to help guide the squad to a European and Premiership Semi Final, with the Premiership play-off still to come this Saturday against Exeter Chiefs.
The Wallaby backrow has deservedly been recognised as one of the Aviva Premiership’s signings of the season, having been voted ‘RPA Players’ Player of the Year’ by his fellow professionals.
He also won the double at Wasps’ End of Season Awards, walking away with the ‘Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the Season’ trophies, and has been nominated for ‘Green Flag Forward of the Season’ at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards this Wednesday, at the London Hilton, Park Lane.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “We always knew George would only be here for one season and knew he was one hell of a player, but I’m not sure any of us could have predicted the impact he would have been able to make in that short space of time.
“It’s hard to fully explain what George has given Wasps this season. His talent and performances on the pitch speak for themselves, where he has rightly been recognised by so many award nominations, having been one of the league’s and Europe’s most consistent performers.
“However, perhaps even more valuable to us as a club and a team has been his influence behind the scenes. George has set a fantastic example to the young players coming through, in his commitment to training, the respectful way he treats everyone at the club and his professionalism in everything he does.
"He has been a phenomenal leader and mentor for some of our up-and-coming players, who he’s inspired to reach a new level. He has given those players his time and shared his experience to help improve technique, how to read game situations and has helped build players’ confidence in their own ability.
“George still has a huge contribution to make as we prepare for our first Premiership Semi Final in eight years, but we will wish him and his family the very best next season, when he returns Suntory Sungoliath.”
The Japanese club have also confirmed the signings of Brumbies backs Christian Lealiifano and Nigel Ah Wong, along with Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler.