Deans factor convinced Giteau to stay with Toulon
TOULON, France (AFP) –
Matt Giteau opted not to return to Australia and signed a new contract with French Top 14 leaders Toulon instead because he realised with Robbie Deans as national coach he had no chance of a recall to the Wallabies squad.
The 31-year-old was sensationally left out of last year’s World Cup squad by Deans – who had originally made him his first choice fly-half in 2008 before his dramatic fall from grace with the Kiwi coach – despite still being in top form and with 92 caps under his belt since making his debut in 2002.
Giteau – who played in the 2003 World Cup final loss to England – signed for Toulon and enjoyed a terrific first season there, in which they reached the title final only to lose to Toulouse, and was only too willing to re-sign a new two year contract last month.
“Yes, I have brought a curtain down on my chances of ever playing for my country again,” he said.
“But with the coach who is in charge of them at the moment, I don’t have much of a chance of being called up in any case.
“Even if I had returned to Australia, a condition of being available again for selection, I would maybe not have been recalled.
“Thus I decided to stay at Toulon, where I am flourishing. But I remain a devoted supporter of the Australian team and I still have a lot of friends in the squad.
“After next Saturday’s game against Clermont, I will leave for a fortnight’s holiday in Australia with my wife and son.”
Giteau, who won two Super 12 titles with the ACT Brumbies early in his career, said he had sympathy for fly-half Quade Cooper, who was heavily fined and received a suspended three-match ban for lashing out on social media at the “toxic” environment within the national squad and the defensive style of Deans.
“Quade (he would not have been fit for the present tour because he is injured) wanted to express how unhappy he was,” said Giteau.
“He has since apologised. I also experienced difficult moments at international level, I didn’t make the last World Cup. Robbie is as he is. The coaches like certain players and others less. It has always been the case. I don’t enter into the plans of Robbie.”
Giteau said that the Wallabies – who open their autumn series against France at the Stade de France on Saturday – would miss several players, especially Will Genia.
“It is true that they are missing several players but the one they will miss most is Will Genia, he is a huge loss,” said Giteau.
“His replacement Nick Phipps plays really well but Genia is the sort of player that no side can afford to lose.”
Giteau, who in between two spells with the Brumbies had two years with their rivals Western Force, said that he had not really had to think too hard about signing on again for Toulon, despite being coveted by several other clubs both back in Australia and England.
“It was easy because I am so happy here!
“And even more importantly my family are happy as well. That is the first reason.
“Also Toulon is a great team which has the possibility of winning several trophies.
“In my head I had two options: to stay in France or return to Australia. I never even thought of trying my luck in England for example.
“But then why leave when I am feeling so well here? Therefore I chose to stay in France and that meant with Toulon. When it came down to it it was a relatively easy decision to take.