The 32-year-old openside flanker will win his 111th cap at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday after four years out of Test rugby and six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Former Lions and All Blacks coach Graham Henry suggested it was a roll of the dice by Robbie Deans and current Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree jumped on the bandwagon on Friday.
"I'm surprised at that," Rowntree said. "He's been out for a long time. Will be interesting to see his match fitness. They've got three good sevens in that squad."
Genia, though, said the inclusion of the squad's only remaining veteran of the 2001 Lions tour was an unquestionable positive for the team.
"George is a freak," he told reporters on Friday. "He's come back (from injury) earlier than expected and he looks in great shape.
"He's running around like he's 21. He's got great enthusiasm, he's got great respect from the guys and great respect from people in the game.
"He offers so much with his experience, with his ability at the breakdown. For a lot of us, he has an aura about him and to have him in your side means a lot and definitely gives me a lift coming into this Test."
Hooker Stephen Moore, his team mate at the ACT Brumbies, said Smith could have an even bigger impact on Saturday than he had when he helped Australia recover from a first Test defeat to win the 2001 series on his 21st birthday.
"If you look at those great players and Richie McCaw is a great example, they've adapted their games throughout their careers," Moore said.
"They've added new dimensions and those two guys are great examples of doing that throughout their careers.
"George is a different player than he was when he last played against the Lions 12 years ago.
"He's really matured and physically, he's always kept himself in great shape and he's a freak in that respect. I've never seen him tire in a Test match no matter how much rugby he's played."
Despite looking to use the recall as a counter in the final hours of the pre-match psychological exchanges between the two sides, Rowntree was looking forward to Smith's battle with Sean O'Brien, who has replaced injured Lions skipper Sam Warburton in the number seven shirt.
"I'll be watching that closely. It's going to be a big challenge for Sean," he said. "But from what we've seen from training today and all week, crikey, we're ready for this battle."