What does Matt Giteau not becoming Wallabies Vice Captain mean for his career?

Where does Giteau go?

Where does Giteau go?
"yeah, well what about Assistant Vice Captain?"

"well what about Assistant Vice Captain?"

It’s taken two domestic seasons to do it, but through the unveiling of the squad to go to Europe this spring, together with a revolutionary new leadership team of Rocky Elsom and Berrick “sookface” Barnes, Robbie Deans has well and truly put his stamp on the Wallabies. However, if silly season press stories are to be believed, this has more than ruffled a few feathers in the Wallabies.

According to stories in the Australian and the Herald, Antipodeans didn’t exactly smooth the waters before announcing the new Captain and Vice-Captain: even long-term incumbent Stirling Mortlock found out along with the rest of the team. Together with  his Japanese talks a few weeks back, it would seem to be sayonara Stirling at the end of this tour.

But if there’s one senior player from whom most alleged disgruntled noises have been coming from, it’s Matt Giteau. You’ve got to think he was one of the senior non-Waratahs who dug their heels in about not playing the trial at the SFS. Then it was Matt being unhappy at the thought of being moved outside Barnes to 12, followed by him not even getting a look in on the VC role. Giteau has been happy to use the press to ends before, as demonstrated by his open negotiations with the Western Force on the way back through France at the end of last year’s euro-tour. And so it’s easy to write him off as a precious mega-star.

However, Dingo has sent the guy a pretty clear message – “no matter how long you’ve been around, how much you’re paid, or how well you’ve done in Super 14, you’re currently a long way second fiddle to Berrick Barnes”. Even if you swallow the “they’re interchangeable” line, surely the guy who’ll be calling who interchanges when will be Buns as VC in the backline. That’s gotta sting, even make you re-evaluate your spot in the set-up.

There were a number of names with RWC 2011 question marks hanging over them – Baxter, Sharpe, Mortlock, Waugh – but at 27 and the highest paid man in Australian rugby, Gits wasn’t one of them. Following a less than average Tri-Nations, and with both Cooper and Beale in the squad, you get the feeling Robbie is looking for options.

Just where to for Kid Dynamite?

  • Pete

    I’ve always liked Giteau and he is a great talent but he is really starting to act like a pratt this year.

    He is starting to think he is bigger than the game, the team and his team mates. He is hanging the threat to go Europe over the ARU if he doesn’t get what he wants. Seems to me as if he works only for himself and his ego and has no concern for the team.

    He needs to pull his head in. When he and the other handful of ‘senior players’ start delivering on the field maybe than he can start making demands about what position he plays, who gets selected as his halfback, who coaches the team, whether he plays trial games or not etc. While you are running last in the tri-nations the players shouldn’t have that luxury.

    • mudskipper

      Gits is fine he is our best creative player…. he is our goal kicker and bloody a good one… As both captaincy is to much… Gits as Fly will dictate play anyway regardless and Barnes won’t. Barnes job will be to step in for Rocky during injury or with off field player assistance within the squad… Giteau is our best chance at the 2011 RWC so be real rugby supporters…

      The 10 – 12 thing is deans over complicating the Wallabies game and now supporters are blaming Giteau for complying…. think about it…

  • This shows the power of a blue jersey, Berrick hasn’t even played for the Tahs and he’s already getting the promotions.

    I think Deans is onto a winner here, if the press is to be believed (a BIG if) and Giteau is behaving like a princess then he needs to be shown that he’s replaceable.

    • James

      show the power of a brumbies jumper ;)

  • Giteau really needs to be subed or started from the bench in a couple of games on tour, not becaus ehe is a nancy boy, but due to the fact he has had such a great run without injury, we dont know how to play with out him and we really should learn just in case.

    it might also mean we find out were a better team without him.

    if giteau is unhappy he can walk, if he threatens it, i say call his bluff, he isnt indespensable anymore and quite frankly the money him and a few others are on, they should be solving world hunger by now!

  • Cameron

    This will surely blow over, this kind of stuff always get amplified in a losing team. Six months ago we were spruiking him as world’s best???

    • happy hooker

      Agreed, media beat up surely. They need to sell papers somehow.

  • Bob

    The fact that this is even an issue, explains why theses prima donnas can’t play friggin football.

  • rick steel

    I’d like to see a couple of actual quotes from Gits that back this up. There’s so much beatup in the press lately about this sort of thing. Anyway, who cares if he was disappointed about not being made C or VC, it means he wanted it in the first place which is great. Just because he’s disappointed doesn’t mean he won’t give his all.

  • Ozrugbynut

    Gitz would undoubtedly feel dissappointed by being overlooked, but maybe this is what’s needed to get that spark back in his play.

    And personally, I’d love to see him back at 12. The extra space would allow him to fully utilise his ball running skills and would cause more than a few problems for any defending side, moreso than Barnes.

    Unfortunately I can only forsee more BS politics continuing until things get better and these changes will take time to settle. I think Gitz will be heading OS after the 2011 WC.

  • Backs.

    Who needs them.

  • Robson

    Giteau needs to understand that his responsibility is to his employers, the ARU and as a consequence he has massive obligations to Australian rugby fans.

    His own ego comes a long way behind both these issues, which should be white hot priorities in his rugby life. Once he receives this signal loud and clear a lot of good things will happen; one of which will be a meteoric improvement in his game.

    Is he listening though??

  • Scarfman

    What I don’t understand about Deans’s’s decision is that he didn’t try B10 G12 until the last minute. A few of us were screaming for that at the start of the season.

    Maybe Gits is the world’s best 12 and a very capable VC from there.

  • Juan Cote

    Gits played his best rugby when he was at 12 and Barnes seems to play better when he is at 10.

    I cannot understand this obsession with having two play makers, let’s just settle on one good one.

    Gits’ great strength is his ability to run at retreating defences and beat his opposition but for this he needs space and that is not something he gets when at 10

  • mudskipper

    Giteau is being blamed for Deans strategy of 10-12 swop experiments with Barnes during the new rules changes… wake up OZ rugby public.. on top of that deans backed Burgess for way to long this international season… Burgess’s service was extremely poor to Gits at flyhalf… give Giteau our brightest talent who is the most important member of the Wallabies squad to win the 2011 RWC a chance in this low spot…

  • Epi

    Blind Freddy can see that Gits and Barnes need to switch positions… Blind Freddy saw this 2 years ago!

    Deans is very slow to react – as he was with Burgo…

    That said – theres a lot of trouble making journalism around at the moment with very little evidence to back it up. I certainly wouldn’t be making any judgement calls on Gits character on the strength of heresay… Where is there a single quote which backs any of it up?

  • dave

    In body shape terms Giteau seems familiar to Tim Horan. A bit slighter maybe but with equal ability off either foot and plays – as Juan mentioned – well to a retreating, doubting defense.
    Maybe Deans is given it back to Giteau for some petulant behaviour or attitude. Stamping his authority and especially so after the dabacle in NZ that followed such a gutsy effort in Brisbane. Why did that happen?

    • Cameron

      Giteau doesn’t have the same crash ball running ability as Horan….Horan was amazing for combining crash ball and playmaking ability into one world class package.

  • Paris Tah

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Connolly have Barnes at 10 and Gits at 12 both playing well together for most of RWC 07 with Larkham out injured, and it was only a few wayward goal kicks that stopped us going further?

    • Epi

      True. Shouldn’t that be Paris Red now that Link went to QLD?

    • Ozrugbynut

      I’d add that this current team is probably better than the 07 WC squad. We’ve certainly ironed out some issues with the scrum, and our lineout hasn’t been terrible. Just need to get those forwards working harder at the breakdown and the 9, 10, 12, 13 combo right and we’re looking ok.

  • mudskipper

    blind Freddy… isn’t a coach of any worth… the issue has been a poor scrum half… Gits is a world class flyhalf and Barnes is injury prone… the switch plan during plan has merit on paper but lacks in execution… this is Deans doing not Giteau’s or Barnes…

    look closer at what is on and off field….. gentlemen…..

    • Epi

      Not a coach of any worth but probably on par with Hickey to be honest..

      • Robson

        You might be able to say that when Hickey has won seven Super 14 titles.

        • Epi

          Blind Freddy.. not Dingo.

    • it isnt a poor scrum half, its called proper forward play at the breakdown to allow the scrum half to have a chance, genia will struggle just as much as burgo if this continues.

      genia also fires rocket balls straight at the player, were never moving forward with him on the field, gits always gets the ball flat footed.

      • Epi

        err.. he was behind the worst effort of the lot in Wellington and still didn’t come anywhere close to the inconsistancy of Burgo.

        How do you explain that again?

        In regards to at the man or in front – different 5/8s have different preferences. Gits might be asking to have it come to him. He might be tired of leaping around like a clown gathering wayward passes..

        Arguing that Burgess’ delivery is any where near as good as Genia’s is like arguing the world is flat.

        • genias service isnt great, it is fast but it isnt good attacking ball and he still has a long way to go in my eyes before i would consider his spot safe.

          the people who turn a blind eye to him and feel he has a pass four times faster than the speed of light and can do no wrong are the ones that will turn on him the hardest in the coming years, i maintain bret sheehan is our best starter with burgo coming on as an x factor late in the game.

          burgo looks like he has points in him, Genia looks like someone punching above his weight that will be found out easily.

      • mudskipper

        Burgess peripheral vision is out… he throws the ball to players who aren’t there or misreads player movements around him both side team and the opposition…

  • Henry

    Giteau passed down $9 million to go and play in France. I’m pretty sure his heart is in the right place. As soon as our best player has a form slump, the media jumps on him and makes all this bullshit up. It’ll blow over…

    • giteau never got offered 9 mil, his agent said he did to increase his worth here, Dan Carter didnt get that much and Dan Carter actually delvers on a rugby pitch.

      • Ed

        Carter only went for six month’s, Giteau would of gone for at least 4 years.

  • Robson

    Bob Dwyer says that no team can have an attack that functions properly with a flyhalf running across the paddock like Gits does. And apart from a couple of easy games against the Italians his kicking game has been rubbish too (not Dwyers comment – mine)

    Whether he wants to play there or not, Gits is much better suited to the No. 12 role. Everyone here has been saying that throughout the TN and now it’s going to happen so why is there so much shock, horror gasp at Gits being unhappy because he’s had a positional change? And because he wasn’t made vice captain?

    He says he’s disappointed about it, but even so will support the other two (Elsom and Barnes) in their roles. Frankly this is all ego and me, me, me stuff and I can’t for the life of me imagine Dan Carter getting his tits in a tangle over this sort of thing.

    I just want to see Gits play the kind of footy that he is capable of and the Spring tour to the northern hemisphere might be a good place to start.


Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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