George Smith ran away from a taxi driver in Tokyo in an effort to prove to the Queensland Reds that he is in peak condition before the 2018 Super Rugby season.
The former Wallaby ran a number of high intensity sprints after allegedly refusing to pay a taxi fare on New Year’s Eve, for which he was arrested and charged with robbery resulting in bodily injury. Smith denies the claims but also said he was too drunk to remember the incident.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 before Corey Norman in 2016 and Tim Simona in 2017.
Smith will return to Australia to fulfil a contract to play with the Reds during the 2018 Super Rugby season. That contract may be in jeopardy though, considering the fact that the 37-year-old Smith was chased down and caught by a taxi driver.
The age and fitness level of the driver is not known but the Reds might want to consider offering him a contract to replace Smith or fellow Red Karmichael Hunt, whose career is in doubt after he was recently charged with a second drug offence.
Smith’s AM dash means that two Queensland Reds players are now equal favourites for The Frownlow Medal in 2018. The three recipients of the coveted award have all been NRL players and the list of nominees has always been dominated by players from this code and the AFL. Will 2018 be the year for Rugby Union?
Maybe, but a year is a long time in sport.
First published in January, 2018.