Veteran Smith not feeling Australia pressure

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The Independent Online

Australia veteran George Smith insists he is not feeling the heat heading into the Wallabies' crucial autumn tour despite talk his starting spot is under threat.

Smith trained with Australia's 'second string' on Tuesday, leading to speculation the openside flanker would be benched in favour of the dynamic David Pocock for Saturday week's Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Tokyo.

It would be a dramatic fall from grace for the 105-Test veteran, who led Australia in their last Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.

The 30-year-old has also been stripped of the vice-captaincy but is adamant the recent setbacks are nothing more than timely wake-up calls.

"I definitely don't feel complacent in the way I prepare and I think that's the way everyone approaches it," Smith said.

"You can't be complacent in the way that you do things and I guess all spots are up for grabs.

"I guess the message is to make sure you're working at your own game and continue doing that.

"It's good to have healthy rivalry in the team and as Dave looks to me for advice, I look to him in different areas as well so it's making sure you're bouncing off each other and helping each other for the betterment of the team."

Asked if he had given up hope of retaining his run-on spot for the Tokyo Test, Smith said: "You saw the make-up of the teams yesterday but the team isn't selected until next week so we'll wait until then.

"I don't want to get into hypotheticals, we'll wait until the team is announced."

But if he is dropped from the starting line-up, the two-time John Eales medallist insists he will not be kicking stones and complaining about his treatment.

"I'm always upbeat, I'm always a happy fellow around camp," he declared.

"You definitely won't see me moping around if I wasn't selected.

"I think it shows the character of the person when you do work hard to get back in the team if you are not selected.

"My focus is to improve as a player and make sure I contribute to the team."

The Wallabies leave Sydney on Saturday with most of the outside focus on the Grand Slam tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

But Smith claims the squad is placing enormous importance on the dead rubber Bledisloe Cup clash against the All Blacks.

"We can't look too far in terms of Test matches and the Kiwis are our focus at the moment," he said.

"(As for) the Grand Slam, we'll worry about that after."