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Giteau relishing RWC swansong

2015-09-05 11:03

Chicago - Australia centre Matt Giteau is relishing the prospect of a Rugby World Cup swansong after a four-year exile from international rugby saw him welcomed back into the Wallabies fold.

The 32-year-old France-based star feared he had played his last game in the green and gold jersey until Australian Rugby Union chiefs relaxed eligibility rules regarding overseas players, paving the way for his return.

Giteau, who was recalled for Australia's Rugby Championship-winning campaign earlier this season, will start at centre on Saturday when the Wallabies face the US Eagles at Chicago's Soldier Field.

The Toulon star told AFP here Friday he is still pinching himself at his return to international rugby, four years after he was controversially axed from the 2011 World Cup squad by then coach Robbie Deans.

"It's been a very exciting time for me and a little surreal too," said Giteau, a member of the Toulon side that clinched a third consecutive European Cup earlier this year.

"When I signed to play for Toulon I gave up the right to play for my country again - so it's been amazing that I've got this opportunity to play in another World Cup.

"The opportunity to play for your country is not one you get that often and so to get a second chance at it when you think you'll never do it again - it's been perfect, just a great feeling."

Australia face hosts England in the World Cup's first round "Group of Death", with Wales also battling to reach the quarter-finals from a daunting Pool A which includes Uruguay and Fiji.

Giteau has bitter World Cup memories against England, having been a member of the sides which lost the 2003 final to Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop goal in Sydney as well as the team knocked out by the English in a titanic quarter-final duel in Marseille four years later.

Giteau however insists Australia will not be motivated by revenge even if they could potentially end up knocking out England when the two teams meet at Twickenham on October 3.

"I just want us to win, doesn't matter who we're playing, whether it's Fiji, Uruguay, Wales or England," Giteau said.

"It's not about settling scores, it's about winning rugby matches, and that's what we're focused on - making sure that come the quarter-finals we're still in the competition and in the best possible position to go forward."

Giteau says Australia however will be wary of the threat posed by an English side fuelled by fervent home support when the World Cup kicks off.

"Home advantage is huge," he said. "If they can get the crowd involved that can give them something extra. Playing at home is a big thing - I got to experience it in 2003 and it does make a big difference."

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