Portugal or whoever, Smith happy to play     13 Sep 2007    

Injury has been something of a constant companion this season for the player regarded by the selectors as their best centre option last year.

Just when it seemed he could set out to reclaim the position for himself in the tournament in Saturday's game against Italy, Smith suffered a hamstring twinge.

The team's medical and physiotherapy experts consoled him with the news that it wasn't as bad as the injury he had suffered previously in the same leg, but he wasn't so sure.

"On Friday I started fearing the worst because it happened on Thursday and I didn't think it was too bad. Then I had the fitness test on Friday," he said.

Despite the fact that he knew the injury wasn't as bad as he had suffered in the past but he still wasn't prepared to share the confidence of the medical staff that he would have a quick recovery.

"But a couple of days later it proved they were right and it was feeling pretty good again.

"It's been a tough year but there are always opportunities around the corner and there are a couple of big ones ahead.

"I've just got to keep looking forward - it's worked for me in the past so I'll keep sticking to that," he said.

Nor was he concerned that his first game would be against lowly Portugal.

"It doesn't bother me - I have the chance to play whoever I'm playing. I'm still pretty excited and I think that's the same for most of the guys in the team."

Smith said it probably suited him better to have a low key start.