Come­back ‘ strange’

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - IAIN PAYTEN

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.

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