Smith's loan set to be extended

Date published: April 15 2013

George Smith's loan at the Brumbies could be extended after talks between Jake White and the former Wallaby's Japanese club coaches.

An extension of George Smith's loan at the Brumbies is closer to fruition after the Canberra-based franchise's boss Jake White met the former Wallaby's Japanese club coaches.

Talks were held in Dunedin after Smith shone in the Brumbies' 31-19 victory over the Highlanders on Friday.

White revealed that the two Suntory Sungoliath coaches were receptive during the meeting.

He said their main concern was that Smith would be fresh for Suntory's season which starts on August 18.

“Don't forget they love the fact that Suntory get some mileage and Japanese rugby gets some mileage,” White told AAP.

“So I'm sure if we find a way in which we can keep him fresh and give him enough time to play and make sure he's 100 per cent ready for their season … I'm sure that they would look at accommodating us.”

But it will almost impossible to keep Smith fresh if he is called up by the Wallabies and starts all three Tests in the upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions as well as playing in the Super Rugby finals.

At present, Smith's last game for the Brumbies will be against the Hurricanes on May 31.

That leaves the June 7 match with the Rebels and the July 13 clash against the Force as the only fixtures Smith is set to miss before the finals from July 19 to August 3.

Despite the Brumbies' position at the top of the table, White feels it's presumptuous to talk about extending Smith's loan this early in the season.

The latest development comes ahead of Smith's highly-anticipated battle with the Reds in-form flanker, Liam Gill in Brisbane on Saturday.

Gill and Michael Hooper are the two openside flankers who were named in Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' preliminary 30-man squad for the Lions series, with Smith ineligible due to his status as a foreign-based player.

Deans will name his top 25 Test players on May 19 before finalising a 31-man Test squad on June 11.

The Reds are wary of Smith, with coaching boss Ewen McKenzie saying his current form warranted Wallabies selection.

But McKenzie backed the Australian Rugby Union's cautious approach in sticking to their policy and not allowing the selection of overseas-contracted players.

“We're talking about the Lions series but if you open the door then he's got to be a available for the (Rugby Championship) and the northern hemisphere tour so you can't just cherry pick your way through it,” he said.