ACT Brumbies and Wallabies standout George Smith is finally retiring for good after almost 20 years as one of the world's best.
The 38-year-old announced the end of his glittering career on Monday night after years of defying the odds and continuing to play despite his position being one of the most demanding in the game.
Golden boy: 111-cap Wallaby George Smith says it would be immoral to help Eddie Jones at England.Credit:Jonathan Carroll
Many regard Smith as one of the greatest Wallabies in history because of his durability, his breakdown expertise and an uncanny knack to read the game better than most.
He first left Australian rugby when he walked away from the Brumbies at the end of 2010, but made comebacks in Canberra in 2013 and then with the Queensland Reds in 2017 and 2018.
"Finally the day has come where I officially announce my retirement from professional rugby," Smith said in a statement.
"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."
Smith played 111 Tests for Australia and 142 games for the Brumbies, which was a record when he played his last game in the Super Rugby final in 2013.
He has also played in France, England and Japan after making his Brumbies and Wallabies debut in the same year in 2000.
"The day my father registered me with the Warringah Roos at four years of age in Manly I found myself returning to the game every year thereafter," Smith said.
"I was extremely lucky in my career to have landed myself in Canberra as a young 19-year-old kid, having the luxury of being tutored by the finest peers and coaches in the game at the ACT Brumbies.
George Smith made a Super Rugby return with the Reds, pictured here during the 2018 season.Credit:AAP
"I had a great time there and look back fondly. Those early years in Canberra shaped a part of my rugby identity and further encouraged my personal ambitions to better myself as a rugby player.
"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.
"Looking back I'm pleased with the impression that I leave behind on my playing contribution and it is time now to start looking forward to the next chapter that awaits my family and I."
But he jokes he was surprised the Brumbies even offered him a professional contract when a dreadlocked teenager arrived at the club's headquarters for the first time to meet with then-coach Eddie Jones.
"Special mention to Eddie Jones, who has been a constant supporter and mentor of mine throughout this time," Smith said.
"The day I rocked up to sign my first Brumbies contract with dreadlocked hair, board shorts and thongs, I think back and shake my head as to why he didn't just turn me away tight there and then.
"I'm grateful for his advice and friendship."
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