THERE IS so much versatility in the Wallabies’ backline that veteran five-eighths Matt Giteau is not required at all for the opening Tri Nations test against South Africa in Sydney this Saturday, says coach Robbie Deans.
The 92-test veteran’s dream of playing 100 internationals before he links up with Toulon at the end of the year have hit a major roadblock, after he was deemed surplus to requirements for the match at ANZ Stadium.
Despite scoring 18 of his side’s 23 points during the shock loss to Samoa at the weekend, Giteau had an otherwise flat game running the cutter and, as a result, has paid the price, with a rested Quade Cooper set to resume normal service in the No 10 jersey.
Even so, it’s staggering that Deans would look past his experience on the bench, given the inexperience in the five-eighths and centre ranks, but the transplanted Kiwi feels that there is such versatility in the backline that his services will not be required for this match.
The Wallabies have two players in the starting line-up who can move into five-eighth if anything happens to Quade Cooper. James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale have both played in the pivotal position for their Super Rugby provinces this season.
The midfield of Pat McCabe and Adam Ashley-Cooper are also able to play wing and fullback.
''We've gone for a combination which we believe will be good for us, and we also believe we have the capability within the existing group to cover all those potential permutations around No.10 and 12,” says Deans when quizzed by reporters as to why Giteau was not on the bench.
''Matt will obviously want a role going forward. And he obviously has a role going forward. We don't know exactly what that will entail in terms of playing. That will unfold.”
While it is premature to say that Giteau’s days as a test footballer are done and dusted, it looks as if he faces a tough task to get himself back into the Wallabies’ top match-day side.
Giteau has a clause with Toulon that enables him to return for the British and Irish Lions tour in 2013, but he would have to enjoy a massive rise in form to return to the Wallabies' inner sanctum given he has been well below his best since 2009.« Back to Articles
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?