4 Jul 2013

George Smith to start for the Wallabies

12:17 pm on 4 July 2013

Veteran Australian flanker George Smith will start against the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's rugby test series decider in Sydney.

Smith retired from international rugby in 2010 after making 110 appearances for the Wallabies, and his last test was in late November, 2009. Saturday's match at the Olympic Stadium, now known as ANZ Stadium, will be his 111th and possibly final test.

Smith's the only change to the starting lineup for the Wallabies, he takes the No.7 jersey off fellow Brumbie Michael Hooper and the almost 33-year-old will become the first Australian international to play two series against the Lions.

Smith's surprise selection means incumbent openside Hooper drops to the bench, in the only change to the starting line-up from the side that beat the Lions 16-15 in Melbourne last weekend.

Reserve flanker Liam Gill drops out of the squad.

Coach Robbie Deans says the decision to go with George in no way reflects any dissatisfaction with the way either Michael or Liam have played.

Deans says the first two games have been rugged, especially at the breakdown, and they feel that the combination of experience and fresh legs that George brings is the right way to go for this week.

Once one of the best openside flankers in the world, Smith stormed back into contention for this year's Lions tour on the back of some impressive performances for the ACT Brumbies.

Australia: 15-Kurtley Beale, 14-Israel Folau, 13-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12-Christian Leali'ifano, 11-Joe Tomane, 10-James O'Connor, 9-Will Genia, 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-George Smith, 6-Ben Mowen, 5-James Horwill (captain), 4-Kane Douglas, 3-Ben Alexander, 2-Stephen Moore, 1-Benn Robinson

Replacements: 16-Saia Fainga'a, 17-James Slipper, 18-Sekope Kepu, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Ben McCalman, 21-Michael Hooper, 22-Nick Phipps, 23-Jesse Mogg