Wasps today confirmed the signing of George Smith from Lyon. The Australian flanker will join Wasps ahead of the 2015/16 season.
With 111 international caps and a World Cup win with the Wallabies to his name, Smith also has European experience with Toulon, Stade Francais and Lyon, and will make his first foray into Aviva Premiership Rugby next season with Wasps.
Born in Sydney, Smith started his career with the Brumbies, playing Super Rugby for 11 years, before moving to France, then Japan and returning to Australia in 2013, before moving to Lyon last year. Smith’s last appearance for the Wallabies came in July 2013 against the British and Irish Lions.
The eight-time ‘Brumbies Player of the Year’ will join a Wasps back-row that has been touted as one of the best in the league, including the likes of James Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes, Guy Thompson, Sam Jones and Thomas Young.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “George Smith is one of the greats of his generation. To be able to add a player of his international experience and quality is a real coup for Wasps.
Despite being 34 years old, he has shown through his form at Lyon this season that he is still one of the sharpest operators in the game. He is in tremendous shape and his reading of the game and winning mentality should benefit Wasps hugely next season.
“We have a very strong back row already, but with Ashley Johnson’s transition to hooker for the long-term and a relatively young back row grouping, we are really pleased to be able to make the addition of a top-level player like George. He will be a fantastic professional for our young back-rowers to learn from, on and off the field, and I am sure their games will continue to develop significantly playing alongside him.
“We learnt this year, that competing at the sharp-end of the Aviva Premiership and in the latter stages of the European Champions Cup requires real depth and experience to the squad.
“We have incredible natural talent within our ranks and some of the most exciting attacking threats in the Premiership, but many of our young players are still learning their trade. George has been there and done it. As a player, he has that hard, abrasive edge you need in a team, as well as years of experience of winning big trophies and tight games to draw on, when we are hopefully competing at the top end of the table again next season.”
George Smith added: “I am very excited to be joining Wasps. I have always admired their history in Europe and it’s clear from developments on and off the field this season that Wasps are a very progressive and ambitious club, who are determined to get back to the top of the European game.
“I have really enjoyed the experience of playing in France, Japan and Australia and I am extremely motivated to test myself in the Aviva Premiership. Wasps have a really exciting group of young and talented players and I hope to be able to use my experience to help develop that talent.”