Giteau No Certainty For World Cup Berth
Matt Giteau faces an uphill task if he is going to make it to his third Rugby World Cup after he was sensationally dropped from the Wallabies line up to face South Africa this weekend.
Giteau was the highest profile causality from the shocking 32-23 loss to Samoa, and with a number of backline stars battling it out for a limited number of backline spots, Giteau’s time in the Wallabies team could be limited.
“Matt will obviously want a role going forward, he has a role going forward, we just don’t know what that will entail just yet in terms of playing,” said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
“He’s part of the squad, so he has a big part to play. We prepare as one, and next week is another week. You can look at anyone and make assumptions but like I’ve said many times, we’re presuming nothing going forward.
“We’ve gone for a combination that we think will be good for us and we believe we have the capability within the existing group to cover all of those permeations around 10 and 12.”
Giteau has played a lot of football for the Wallabies at inside centre, and many thought he would start there against the South Africans in the tri-nations opener, however Deans has opted for Brumbies centre Pat McCabe, who is one of the few Wallabies to maintain their place in the side following the Samoa game.
“He’s well suited to the midfield. He’s played most of his football on the edge, whether it be wing or fullback. He’s got the speed and he’s also got size and he’s a good decision maker,” Deans said.
There is no question that after his great Super Rugby season, Quade Cooper will be the number one fly half for the tri-nations and the World Cup. His combination with scrum half will Will Genia also be important for the Wallabies.
That leaves a number of players fighting out to see who will wear the number 12 jersey.
Pat McCabe obviously has the inside run on Giteau, however Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor have also played inside centre, although they are more likely to be selected at fullback or wing. Adam Ashley Cooper and Anthony Faingaa both had great Super Rugby seasons, and could well be ahead of Giteau.
But by far the biggest thing standing between Giteau and adding to his 92 test caps is the fact that Berrick Barnes makes his return to club rugby this weekend.
Barnes has been sidelined for over a month with ‘footballers migraine’ however he will make his return this week for Sydney University in a bid to prove his fitness ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
In other news regarding the Wallabies squad, prop Benn Robinson’s knee injury is not as bad as first feared and he is now chance of playing in the World Cup after it was initially feared that he would miss the entire tournament.
“Robbo isn’t going to proceed with his operation, his knee is remarkably stable for an ACL injury, so he’s opted to give it a go and attempt to play without an ACL,” Deans said.
“A typical ACL injury involves medial ligament damage as well, his didn’t and he’s got good stability.
“There’s a little bit of laxity as a result of the fact that he doesn’t have an ACL, but it’s not significant, it’s even consistent with some people post-operation.
“To put it into perspective, it is a low percentage success rate if we base it on history, so I wouldn’t be jumping through hoops yet, but he’s opted to give it a go.”
The Wallabies will meet the Springboks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, and despite the fact they have left many of the first 15 players at home, Deans said he would not be taking anything for granted, especially after the loss to Samoa.
“Have you seen their side? They’re not under strength, they’re a good side,” said Deans.