Veteran openside flanker George Smith has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the age of 38.
Smith wore the number seven on his back for the Wallabies, Brumbies, Toulon, Wasps and more clubs over an illustrious 20-season career.
Ending it at Ashton Gate with Premiership rugby guaranteed for another season, Smith leaves the sport as the second most-capped flanker in international rugby behind Richie McCaw.
Revered in his homeland as a fierce jackal at the breakdown, he was recalled to the Wallabies squad in 2013 for the visit of the British & Lions Tour. Winning the last of his 111 caps in the third Test in Sydney.
“Finally the day has come where I officially announce my retirement from professional rugby,” said Smith, who also played club rugby in Japan and France.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to play professionally for the past 20 years. Rugby has provided and given me so much.
“The dreams that I had of playing rugby professionally as a young bloke, I’m fortunate to say that I’ve lived them and experienced so much more during my time.
“I’m also proud of the opportunities I had to represent the Wallabies on numerous occasions in the past. On reflection, the time spent earning those caps were well worth it.”
England head coach Eddie Jones discovered Smith before the turn of the millenium when watching Sydney-based club Manly, and signed him to the Brumbies.
12 months into his professional career Smith earned his Australia debut on the autumn tour to France. The two share a good friendship to this day the back row revealed .
“Special mention to Eddie Jones, who has been a constant supporter and mentor of mine throughout this time,” he added.
“The day I rocked up to sign my first Brumbies contract with dreadlocked hair, board shorts and thongs (flip-flops). I think back and shake my head as to why he didn’t just turn me away right there and then. I’m grateful for his advice and friendship.
“Looking back I’m pleased with the impression that I leave behind on my playing contribution.
“It’s time now to start looking forward to the next chapter that awaits my family and I.”
The accolades claimed by Smith on a personal level include the John Eales Medal, a place in the Wallabies Team of the Decade and an astonishing four-consecutive years as Super Rugby’s Player of the Year between 2006 and 2009.
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