Jamie George has announced himself as one of the premier hookers in world rugby over the last 18 months but 2007 World Cup-winning captain John Smit is adamant the England and Saracens star will only continue to get better.

George started all three Tests as the Lions secured a memorable 1-1 series draw with the All Blacks this summer, has won back-to-back European Champions Cups with Sarries and was part of the England squad to triumph in the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations.

At the tail-end of his playing career, Smit saw first-hand what the now-26-year-old had to offer by playing with him at Saracens from 2011 to 2013.

Although a hooker by trade, Smit – who skippered South Africa to glory in the 2007 World Cup in France – turned out alongside George at prop on occasion and saw the potential the front-rower possessed even then.

“He’s been incredible, he was such an easy guy to play with and to work with and we actually played a few games alongside each other when I was a prop,” said Smit.

“So, watching him progress and his ability to remain humble in the meteoric rise over the last 12 months has been phenomenal. He will get better, it’s just a matter of keeping himself fit and learning from every weekend.

“I think with players like Jamie George it’s not really a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when. He’s also shown a great deal of patience as well.

“Older guys come in, like myself, and block his pathway. But Jamie was like a sponge, he took in everything he could, asked questions and we became good friends.

“That’s the sort of calibre of person he is which is why he’ll continue to get better.”

George isn’t the only Saracens hooker Smit is eager to keep a close eye on this season, with his former South African teammate Schalk Brits still turning out for the Wolfpack.

Brits is now 36 years old but has postponed retirement for another season, and Smit is impressed by the moves the old warhorse still displays.

“A good friend of mine, Schalk Brits, has been playing for a long time and he was obviously meant to retire in the last year,” added the 39-year-old.

“But he’s sort of squeezed an extra year out of his 36-year-old body and everyone was wondering how he would come out.

“It has been an incredible start to the season for a guy of his age – still stepping and breaking the line and making offloads. I guess I’m biased because he’s a friend of mine but watching him in that first round of Premiership rugby was pretty impressive.”

The Rugby Centurions have inspired others through their passion, integrity and discipline on the field, and now their legacy will live on through this extraordinary association. For more information on Rugby Centurions and the Gala Dinner on November 23 at Hilton Metropole; visit: www.rugbycenturions.com