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Ton-up Giteau defies his own expectations

2015-10-13 14:25
Matt Giteau (AP)

Teddington - Matt Giteau is on course to win his 100th cap in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday but the Australian star said he did not think he would make it past his debut.

The 33-year-old centre - who should be in the starting XV against Scotland on Sunday - has sparkled at the tournament, justifying the decision to recall him after the Australian Rugby Union relaxed their ban on overseas-based players.

Giteau - who has been integral to French club Toulon winning three successive European Cups and a domestic championship - returns to the Twickenham ground where he made an inauspicious debut against England in November 2002.

"I certainly remember my debut," Giteau said on Tuesday.

"We lost by a point.

"I think I went on with about eight minutes to go. At the time, (coach) Eddie Jones had a score system where you got a point for every positive thing you did and where you lost a point for every negative.

"I think I was the only player to finish with a minus. After that game, I never thought I'd get to a hundred. I didn't think I'd get past one."

Giteau, whose Toulon team-mate Drew Mitchell also earned a recall to the squad, said returning after a hiatus of four years - he left for Toulon after being left out of the 2011 World Cup squad - had been a superb feeling.

"I'm really enjoying it," said Giteau, the only member of the squad who featured in the heart-breaking 2003 loss in the final to England.

"The way Squeak's (captain Stephen Moore) leading the team around, off the field as well, it's been really enjoyable.

"It's a great bunch of guys. From the start, I've felt really welcome - not just myself but Drew too. It shows what sort of environment has been created here."

Moore too will also join the centurions club on Sunday. But the 32-year-old hooker remains understated and business-like.

"I probably had a bit more (hair) back then, that's the main difference," said Moore, who made his Test debut in June 2005 against Samoa.

"For me, it's not really a week to be reflecting on things.

"We've got a great opportunity to play in the quarter-final of a World Cup and that's more than enough to play for. These personal achievements are things you probably look at when you hang up your boots."

One of Moore's less enjoyable memories was suffering a rare loss to Sunday's opponents Scotland, 12-6 in appalling weather in the Australian city of Newcastle in 2012. Scotland's present captain Greig Laidlaw kicked all their points.

"I opened the curtains during the day and I think I saw one of the bins rolling down the middle of the street and thought, 'Oh yeah, this is going to be good'," said Moore.

"It was one of the toughest conditions I've ever played in my career - the wind was howling, it was raining sideways - and they really played well in those conditions, controlling the game really well."

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