Veteran flanker George Smith will remain at the ACT Brumbies after agreement with his Japanese club, opening the way for a possible return to the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions.
Originally contracted until the end of next month, Smith has been cleared by Suntory Sungoliath to stay until the Brumbies' final game, including a possible finals campaign in July or August, the club said Thursday.
The decision means that Smith will be in Australia when the three-Test series against the Lions is played in June and July.
Smith, 32, said it was his chance to have a final crack at a Super Rugby title having won the trophy with the Brumbies in 2001 and 2004.
"This has been a special opportunity for me and my family, to return to the Brumbies for what will probably be the last time," Smith said.
"I've already been lucky enough to build a legacy I am proud of with the club, so to be given another chance to add to that is exciting."
The loan extension also gives Smith a chance to add to his 110 caps for the Wallabies in the three-Test home series against the Lions if selected by national coach Robbie Deans.
Brumbies head coach Jake White said he was delighted to have the experienced Smith with the Australian conference leaders as a replacement for long-term injured Wallaby captain David Pocock.
"I've been in close contact with Suntory and I must say they have been a fantastic club to deal with. It's been a pleasure from the start and I thank them for loaning George to us for the season," White said.
"Without being a distraction, this issue is obviously something that both the club and George have been considering for a number of months so it's nice we can have it settled and get back to work."
Smith lines up against outstanding young flanker Liam Gill for the first time against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday to give Deans a look at his selection options for the Wallabies.
But the Australian Rugby Union would still need to set a precedent by allowing an overseas-contracted player to appear for the Wallabies if Deans is to call him up.