AUSTRALIAN legend George Smith has revealed the ambition at Wasps is one of the main reasons why he agreed to make a move to Coventry.
The former World Cup winner, who has 111 international caps, has been confirmed as a Wasps player ahead of the 2015/16 season after moving from Lyon.
Smith brings a wealth of European experience to Wasps having played for Toulon, Stade Francais and Lyon, and will make his first foray into the Aviva Premiership next season.
“I am very excited to be joining Wasps,” said Smith.
“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.”
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 describes Smith as one of the greats of his generation.
He added: “To be able to add a player of his international experience and quality is a real coup for Wasps.
“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.”