Wallaby veteran George Smith says he has proved to himself he belongs in top-flight rugby after making a surprise return to the Brumbies.
Smith has been in superb form since rejoining the Canberra franchise on a short-term deal from Japan two weeks ago, averaging 16 tackles and eight runs in his two appearances.
Initially recalled as injury cover, Smith resumed his old starting role after David Pocock ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
And after another stellar performance in the hammering of the Sharks last weekend, Smith feels comfortable at Super Rugby level again.
''I feel very comfortable at this level, my head's not spinning any more and after that first game I was at ease because I felt like I belonged,'' Smith told the Canberra Times.
''I'm enjoying being back and I definitely think the Brumbies have earned the respect they're getting … reputations are made in your performances.”
The 110-Test stalwart believes a key reason behind the log leaders’ unbeaten start to the season is them having a ''mental edge'' over the opposition.
''I don't think we're about sending messages to other teams, we're about playing to our potential, and I think we can do that.''
Despite his legendary status and decorated career, which has seen him win every award possible in Australian rugby, Smith said he returned to Canberra looking to improve.
''I'm not too proud to say that I wanted to learn off [David Pocock] … he's the premier back row in the world,'' Smith said.
With Pocock sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Brumbies may seek an extension.
Smith, however, is yet to contemplate extending his stay and is preparing to return to Japan and rejoin Suntory when his Brumbies deal ends after the match against the Hurricanes on May 31.
He added that he hasn’t spoken to Wallaby coach Robbie Deans about a possible Test comeback.
Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen and coach Jake White have praised the impact Smith has made on and of the field, the former saying he ''made everything look easy'' and the latter praising his leadership skills.
''We all know how good George is and how important he was to Australia … we've had George and Clyde [Rathbone] come back and we can't buy that experience,'' White said.
''It's the Brumbies' passing on of the baton. When we were going badly in 2011, people forgot what it was like to hand the baton over. The little things George says takes the pressure off other players.''