WALLABY great George Smith’s playing future is in doubt as he battles a potentially career-threatening back injury.
New Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says Smith has returned to Australia to source different medical opinions after the champion flanker hurt himself playing in Japan.
“He’s just getting it checked out at the moment. I guess he’s just getting a few opinions, which is a smart thing to do,” Thorn said on Wednesday.
“We’ll soon find out more about that and he’s a real valued guy and hopefully there’s a good result there.”
Thorn remains hopeful the 111-Test flanker won’t have to hang up his boots and will feature for the Reds during the 2018 Super Rugby season.
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But, turning 38 next July, Smith can’t be far from drawing the curtain on his grand career.
“Who knows? He might want to play a bit more. He’s just trying to look at those opinions and he’s keen to play footy,” Thorn said at the unveiling his 36-man playing squad for next year.
“I don’t think he’s thinking about that sort of thing (retirement) at the moment so I feel hopeful that he’ll be OK.”
Concern over Smith’s availability comes a week after the Reds’ veteran former Wallabies captain and hooker Stephen Moore announced he’d opted out of playing on for one more Super Rugby season.
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But with the likes of Quade Cooper, Scott Higginbotham, James Slipper and Samu Kerevi on his roster, Thorn won’t lack leaders if Smith pulls the pin.
Queensland also possess depth in the back row, albeit not in the same class as their champion No 7, with Smith including 12 loose forwards in his 2018 squad.
Former Wallabies winger Paul Carozza and ex-Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan have been named as two of Thorn’s assistants as the retired All Black makes his coaching debut in Super Rugby.
Queensland Reds 2018 squad
Forwards: Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hoopert, James Slipper, JP Smith, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, George Smith, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright
Backs: Nick Frisby, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Quade Cooper, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Karmichael Hunt, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese
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