George Smith's new contract will take him into his 19th year as a professional rugby player. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
George Smith's new contract will take him into his 19th year as a professional rugby player. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

Ageless wonder George Smith signs new deal in England

GEORGE Smith's seemingly endless rugby career will be extended by at least six months, with the former Wallaby signing a short-term deal in England.

It was presumed Smith, who turns 38 in July, would retire once his current Super Rugby deal with the Reds expires at the end of the season.

But the decorated Australian will play on for a little while longer yet, having put pen to paper on an injury replacement contract with Bristol.

It will take him into his 19th year as a professional rugby player - only a few seasons short of matching the incredible longevity of his current coach Brad Thorn, who put together a glittering 22-year career in both rugby codes.

Newly promoted to the English top division and recently rebranded as the Bears, Bristol is owned by billionaire Stephen Lansdown, who is also the majority shareholder of football club Bristol City.

Smith, who was capped 111 times by the Wallabies, said he was lured to the Bears by their ambition and his relationship with coach Pat Lam.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to the Premiership - a tough competition that I really enjoyed - and representing Bristol at Ashton Gate," said Smith, who played a season with Wasps in 2015-16.

"I'll be able to pass on some advice to the younger guys in the squad as well and I'll be giving my all to the cause during my time at the club."

The Reds have a number of promising young back-rowers who will be ready to step up in Smith's absence next season and are understood to be happy to see him move on.

Smith made his debut for the Brumbies in 2000 and has played for three different French clubs - Toulon, Lyon and Stade Francais - as well as Japanese Top League side Suntory Sungoliath.

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