Giteau urges Wallabies to start Test season with a bang
Robbie Deans insists Matt Giteau will genuinely be auditioning for the Wallabies’ five-eighth role when he lines up as chief playmaker in Sunday’s season-opening Test against Samoa.
Giteau on Saturday claimed he was merely warming the seat for Quade Cooper’s return for the start of the Tri Nations next Saturday against South Africa.
“I hope he’s not approaching it in that light because it’s a Test match,” said Deans, pointing to prop Benn Robinson’s year-ending knee injury suffered this week as proof that the landscape can change quickly in Test rugby.
“You don’t concern yourself with not only things you’ve done in the past, but also things that may happen in the future.
“Neither of those two things are relevant other than what is of value to help you perform on the day.
“Sunday will never come again and Gits is out there with a jersey on.”
France-bound Giteau, though, is merely relishing the chance to don the Wallabies jersey for the 92nd time in a Test career that could end this season.
“I just like to be involved in playing. I’m not getting too ahead of myself. Quade’s had a special year, so I think they’re just resting him for Tri-Nations,” the 28-year-old midfielder said.
“But it’s still an opportunity to just go out there and play footy, and that’s what I enjoy doing.”
Giteau has signed a three-year contract to play in the French competition with Toulon after the Rugby World Cup in September-October, so admits this season holds special significance for him.
Only players registered to Australian Super Rugby provinces are eligible for Wallabies selection, meaning off-shore players miss out.
“Being the year it is as well – World Cup year always brings that little bit more importance, significance,” Giteau said.
“Leaving next year as well. It’s a special year for me.”
Apart from calling the backline shots, Giteau will also assume goalkicking responsibilities after winger James O’Connor was ruled out on Saturday with a hamstring strain.
“This year, I felt like I was kicking well with the Brumbies. It’s something I enjoy doing,” Giteau said.
O’Connor’s scratching led Deans to draft in Queensland speedster Rod Davies to make his Test debut.
“It’s not ideal obviously, but everyone’s been with us and preparing so it’s a great opportunity for Rod,” Deans said.
“It’s an opportunity that he’s very excited about. He came with us (on the spring tour) at the end of last year, played a couple of mid-weekers in atrocious conditions so hopefully this (match) will be in circumstances a little bit more conducive.”
The full extent of O’Connor’s injury is still to be determined with team medical staff to assess him over the coming days.
With the Tri Nations less than a week away, Giteau said it was vital for the Wallabies to quickly find their groove against the rugged Samoans.
“We want to start this Test season with a bang,” he said.
“That’s what we’re hoping to do. The weather will have a say in the style of game we play.
“They’re a bit unpredictable. Especially with the Pacific Island teams, they play a little bit more unstructured.
“They’re physical. They like that physical confrontation. We’ve got to be ready for that.
“The biggest thing to expect is that they’re going to be unpredictable and that’s what they’ll bring.”
Australia team: Mark Gerrard, Rod Davies, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Matt Giteau, Nick Phipps, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson, Rocky Elsom (capt), Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: James Hanson, Pekahou Cowan, Dan Vickerman, Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Will Genia, Kurtley Beale.
Samoa team: Paul Williams, Sailosi Tagicakibau, George Pisi, Seilala Mapusua, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i, George Stowers, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Taisina Tuifu’a, Daniel Leo, Kane Thompson, Anthony Perenise, Mahonri Schwalger, Sakaria Taulafo. Reserves:Tii Paulo, Census Johnston, Filipo Lavea Levi, Manaia Salavea, Brenton Helleur, Eliota Fuimaono, James So’oialo.
Kick-off: 2pm (AEST)© AAP 2013