Tri-Nations

Coaches slam Giteau's axing

2011-07-20 18:53
Matt Giteau (File)
Sydney - The past two coaches to take Australia to a World Cup have criticised Robbie Deans's decision to axe Matt Giteau and are adamant he should be the starting inside centre at this year's tournament.

According Rugby Heaven correspondent, Chris Dutton, Eddie Jones and John Connolly jumped to Giteau's defence after the departing Brumby was left out of the 22-man Test squad to play South Africa on Saturday night.

Jones said Deans had ''pulled the wrong rope'' by dropping Giteau, while Connolly rated the 28-year-old as one of the mentally toughest players he had seen.

Being omitted from the clash with the Springboks has cast doubt over Giteau's involvement in the Wallabies' World Cup campaign.

And Jones - who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final - was baffled by Deans's decision and said opposition teams would be happy to see Giteau left out.

''I think the whole thing is quite sad to be honest,'' Jones said.

''If I was a supporter, the one player I'd be happy to pay money to see would be [Giteau] - he gives his heart every week.

''Right now, for some reason, Robbie doesn't see him as the answer at No 12.

''I just think he's [Deans] pulled the wrong rope there entirely. Gits is a world-class player at his best and it's not going to take him much to get back to that.

''I know the All Blacks will be happy he's not playing.''

Giteau was the biggest casualty after the Wallabies woeful loss to Samoa last weekend.

With Quade Cooper being rested, Giteau played at five-eighth but failed to get his team on the front foot.

Connolly insisted the 92-Test veteran needed to be given a major role if the Wallabies wanted to be successful at the World Cup.

Connolly was in charge of Australia for the 2007 tournament and revealed he almost made Giteau captain instead of Stirling Mortlock.

And Connolly still says Giteau is one of ''the toughest characters I've ever coached''.

''I've coached first-class rugby for 20 years and two people spring to mind for what they bring to team [in toughness] - Matt Giteau and Tim Horan,'' Connolly said.

''They are mentally tough, they'd die for the team and Giteau was very unlucky not to be captain of the 2007 World Cup team. Stirling got the nod because we wanted some continuity because we didn't know where Gits was going to play.

''He would have to be one of the first selected [for the World Cup], but I stress he's a No 12, not a fly-half. I would have him in the XV.''

''Matt Giteau gives a team so much steel, he's a champion.''

With Cooper taking the five-eighth reins and Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor capable of being back-up playmakers, Giteau doesn't have a place in the team.

But Jones said a Cooper-Giteau five-eighth-inside centre combination could still work and would be a weapon at the World Cup.

''The grounds are going to be heavy in New Zealand, to have a left-footer [Giteau] at inside centre is a massive advantage with Cooper as a right-footer at No 10,'' Jones said.

''I'd use Giteau more on second and third phase when Cooper's out of the game.

''There's definitely a way to use them both in the same team.''

Teams:

Springboks: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit, 1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Patrick Lambie

Wallabies: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu

Substitutes: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Nathan Sharpe, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Anthony Faingaa
 

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