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Thread: Matt Giteau - The Profile

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    Senior Player Contributor Evie's Avatar
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    Matt Giteau - The Profile

    Imagine you are standing on the sideline at the spiritual home of your chosen sport, crowd screaming and cheering for the opposition and then above all the noise you hear the support staff yelling that you are needed to replace another player and make your debut for your country, add on to that you are only weeks past your 20th birthday and have never represented your state at senior level.
    That is how Matt Giteau started his professional rugby career.


    Introduction:
    The son of former rugby league player Ron Giteau, Matt was destined to play football but just which code wasn’t obvious until his last year at the rugby union nursery school, St Edmund’s College. While in Year 12 he was told that if he wanted to play for the First XV he had to give up league and so he made a decision and hasn’t looked back. He was named in the ACT Schoolboys team and despite being the best performing halfback at nationals according to many people, Giteau never made an Australian Schoolboys team with selectors prefering NSW’s Josh Valentine.

    Bolter from the Blue:
    Fast forward to the 22nd September 2002, the Canberra Vikings defeated Easts Tigers 45 – 3 to win their 2nd straight Brisbane Club Rugby Final. The next day while still celebrating Giteau got a call from then Wallabies coach Eddie Jones with the news that he has been selected in the Wallabies squad for Argentina and Europe.

    Picked as the 3rd scrumhalf in the squad he wasn’t expected to play unless Gregan’s planned return to Australia for the birth of his 2nd child caused him to miss a Test, Gregan didn’t miss a Test but due to a high injury toll Giteau was named on the bench to play against England at Twickenham. He played just 10 minutes and unfortunately, he didn’t produce that miracle pass, kick or run instead throwing a few bounce passes and the Wallabies lost 32 – 31.

    Masters’ Apprentice:
    After the tour, Giteau signed a 1-year contract with the ACT Brumbies despite interest from tother states. Training and playing alongside long-term Wallabies and Brumbies halves Stephen Larkham and George Gregan didn’t deter him; he just took it as an opportunity to learn from the very best. Giteau made his debut in Round 2 as a replacement and his run-on debut just one week later at flyhalf. Round 4 saw him at inside centre, a position he very quickly made his own relegating veteran Pat Howard to the bench. Unfortunately a knee injury robbed him of a chance of playing in his first Super Rugby semi-final and he was also missed the first few Wallabies Tests for the season. He capped his season off with the Brumbies ‘Best Back’ award and was also named ‘Australian Super 12 Rookie of the Year’ and signed a 3-year contract with the Brumbies.

    He returned from injury late in the Tri Nations tournament and was named in the Wallabies 30-man World Cup squad. Throughout the Cup he was mainly used as an impact player off the bench, gaining only the one start in the thrashing of Namibia at Adelaide Oval and scoring one of the quickest ever hat-trick of tries (just 13 mins). When Giteau came on for a bloodied Larkham he became the youngest Australian to play in a World Cup Final, but history shows that he didn’t go on to become Australia’s youngest World Cup winner.

    The Watershed Year :
    The 2004 Super 12 season was one to be remembered for Giteau and the Brumbies despite the disruption of the decision mid-season not to renew coach David Nucifora’s contract. Giteau played every game and was looking more and more the complete player. The Brumbies finished top of the table and went on to defeat the Chiefs in the semi-final, that led them to a final against arch rivals the Crusaders in Canberra. The Brumbies came out all guns blazing and took the Cup with a 47 to 38 victory.

    With Elton Flately out with a broken hand Giteau started at inside centre for the first time in the Wallabies jersey, after an impressive performance he held onto number 12 playing in all but one Test for the year which he missed due to illness, he also took over the kicking duties with Joe Roff out injured. Another big moment was when childhood friend Matt Henjak joined him as a Wallaby, making his debut against England in Brisbane.

    Giteau’s most impressive performance was when he returned to the scene of his debut Twickenham, where he ran rings around the English defence setting up 2 tries and fearlessly kicked 2 late penalty goals to give the Wallabies their first win at the Home of Rugby since 1998. He was also nominated for iRB Player of the Year, but lost out to South African flanker Schalk Burger.

    Up and Downs:
    Giteau’s 2005 season didn‘t get off to the start he would have hoped, he broke his hand in a pre-season trial against the Hurricanes. The Brumbies opened the season in grand style winning their first four games then injury after injury struck the team, in total 34 players were used, including 9 debutants. Despite all this Giteau had a fine season, also taking over the goal kicking for most of the season after Roff’s retirement, and as a bonus for several of the later rounds he got to play consistently with Henjak after Gregan broke his leg.

    The Wallabies 2005 season started off with several wins and Giteau picked up Man of the Match in the first two games, but injuries and inconsistent form saw the team lose 5 of their 13 Tests for the year. Coach Eddie Jones after 20 starts from 21 Tests dropped Giteau to the bench against England on the Spring Tour and when he did get a run it was shortlived as he succumbed to a knee injury and had to return to Australia.

    Dawn of a New Era:
    The inaugrual Super 14 season in 2006 started with a win for the Brumbies against newcomers the Western Force. After Round 5, Brumbies had won 4 and one draw. Giteau then went onto represent Australia in the Sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, unfortunately Giteau got a injured knee for his troubles and missed the following round.

    By March specualtion about where Giteau would play his Super 14 rugby from 2007 was rife and in late April he announced his decision to sign for the Western Force. He signed a 3-year contract estimated to be worth close to $1 million a year including third-party payments add on top of that endorsements, making him one of Australia’s highest paid sportspeople. Despite his decision to leave he was given a rousing farewell cheer from the Canberra Stadium crowd after his final home game. The Brumbies had a good season but had a disappointing end when they fell out of the top four in the very last round and finished 5th.

    Giteau underwent minor knee surgery following the Super 14 and missed the Wallabies first three victorious games under new coach John Connolly and then returned via the bench in the loss to NZ and returned to the starting line-up the next week in the 49 to nil thumping of South Africa, a game in which Giteau dominated scoring 2 tries and picking up Man of the Match. The Wallabies season fell away a bit after that victory winning only one of the remaining 3 Tests.

    As the Wallabies embark on their Spring Tour next month without Gregan and under new captain Stirling Mortlock, a lot of eyes will be on Giteau. The inclusion of only 2 other scrumhalves in the squad suggests he will be making a move back to the scrumbase, whether he will return there on a permanent basis or continue his growth as a player at inside centre will keep many of us sitting up late in front of the television this November.

    Once 2007 dawns, Giteau will be starting a new chapter of not only his career but his life as well, one which no doubt will interest many.

    · Will he help the Force or will the Force help him ?
    · Will he flourish or struggle under John Mitchell ?
    · Will his arrival in the West help Henjak’s form?
    · What is his best position: 9, 10 or 12 ?
    · Is he a captain in the making ?

    (last updated October 2006)

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    Last edited by Evie; 24-06-07 at 01:08.

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    (formerly known as Coach) Your Humble Servant Darren's Avatar
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    Awesome effort, Evie! I am looking forward to watching those rather astute questions answered...

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    Senior Player Contributor Evie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coach
    Awesome effort, Evie! I am looking forward to watching those rather astute questions answered...
    Thank you and good work for getting through it, at 1400 words I have a feeling it was more than a bit longer than these profiles were intended to be but the words just kept coming. I am sure those questions will be answered and added to.

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    Veteran Jess's Avatar
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    outstanding effort evie! Sport journo in the making for sure!

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    I made Happy sad...

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    Senior Player Contributor Evie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessc
    outstanding effort evie! Sport journo in the making for sure!
    Ta! Hopefully one day... I asked my cousin (the Brumbies Media and Communications co-ordinator) if he needed an assistant sadly he turned me down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessc
    outstanding effort evie! Sport journo in the making for sure!
    Here here, well done Evie

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    Champion Moses's Avatar
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    nice profile Evie, not sure if it's worth 4.5 million yet though I guess that's over three years

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    Legend Contributor fulvio sammut's Avatar
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    Well done!

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Nice work Evie, well done.

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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    excellent work, setting high standards for the rest of us, bugger

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    Senior Player Contributor Evie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frontrow
    excellent work, setting high standards for the rest of us, bugger
    Thanks and yes that was the idea

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    Senior Player AlcoholicStalker's Avatar
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    You expect me to read all that?

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    Senior Player Contributor Evie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlcoholicStalker
    You expect me to read all that?
    I knew you would say something like that but I like to hope it is worth reading.

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    Senior Player AlcoholicStalker's Avatar
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    I am sure it is but you know anything over a couple of hundred words has no chance with me :p

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    Evie, that was excellent

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