Comeback ‘ strange’
HIS form in France was the catalyst for Australian rugby to end over a century of tradition and start picking ov e r s e a s - b a s e d players.
But Matt Giteau is far from the biggest advocate of what is now known as “Giteau’s Law”.
It turns out the naming rights of historic change brings huge pressure and despite re- turning to Wallabies colours as a three- time Heineken Cup champion and darling of Europe, Giteau can’t help feeling like an impostor.
“It feels like it is unjustified that we’ve been picked, that’s how I feel,” Giteau said.
“The rules have just come in. It is very fresh ... we have been playing in a different competition, we haven’t been playing against those guys in the Australian derbies, so we haven’t really had a chance to measure yourself up against them. You haven’t outplayed them, in some ways. So that’s where you feel the justification may not actually be there.”
Giteau and Toulon teammate Drew Mitchell returned to Wallabies camp last week after four and three- year absences respectively; the first entrants under new ARU laws allowing a player with over 60 Tests to be picked from offshore. It was awkward new territory and the pair were grateful to be thrown straight into training on the Sunshine Coast by coach Michael Cheika. Giteau probably wasn’t aware of new Wallaby twentysomethings sharpening up their work when around him, keen to impress. The 92Test veteran was too busy trying to impress the twentysomethings.
“It is like when I first came into the Wallabies, you have to find your feet and find within yourself that you belong,” he said. “That it is a level you can handle and that you can add to the group.
“Every training session I am out there trying to prove myself and earn the respect of the players and the coaching staff.”
Much has changed since Giteau last wore Wallabies colours back in 2011.
He is leaner and four years of sun and success in the south of France have seen him mellow and mature. “Chilled” might capture it best. The tension with Robbie Deans before his departure to Toulon is a closed chapter in an old life.
Friends say the cold delivery of the news he was not in the 2011 World Cup squad still irks but Giteau now admits Deans’ decision was justified.