Giteau primed for Wales clash
November 27, 2008
Matt Giteau's accuracy and flair has helped Australia to the brink of an unbeaten European tour © Getty Images
Wallabies fly-half Matt Giteau has offered some word of warning to Wales in insisting that he is raring to go for their meeting in Cardiff on Saturday. Giteau's superb form on tour has been viewed as a major threat by the Wales management as they seen to end a three-year wait for victory over major southern hemisphere opposition.
The Western Force fly-half is in such prime form that some - including former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies - currently rate him above outstanding New Zealand pivot Dan Carter. Giteau kicked 20 points during the Wallabies' 28-14 win at Twickenham, their biggest since 1984, which followed his 17-point haul collected in Italy seven days earlier. Despite a stuttering performance against France in Paris last weekend, Giteau still kept his points tally ticking over with two penalties and a conversion.
He said, "I feel good physically. (Coach) Robbie Deans handles the workload pretty well. Among the group, everyone knows their roles by now. We've been together all year, so it is just a matter of managing your workload and making sure you go into each game fresh. So far, every game I have gone into I've been feeling very fresh and excited."
Australia have not completed a clean sweep on tour since 1996 and this 12-year wait is an undoubted motivating factor for the Wallabies. "It has been a long time," acknowledged Giteau. "That just shows how tough it is to do it, and we've got that opportunity on Saturday. We know Wales are an exciting side. They like to use the ball, and they are going well defensively. Against New Zealand last weekend they showed they can defend very well, and all 15 players they have in their side can use the ball.
"In the opening couple of minutes, they were going from side to side, throwing the ball and testing the All Blacks. They are a tough side. So far, we've defended well on this tour, but we need to step up again. Wales have made huge improvements over the last year, obviously winning the Six Nations, which they deserved. They are a side that likes to use the ball - as we are as well - so it should be a good game.
"Their defence has improved a lot, so I would say this week we will get less opportunities than we did against England or France. We are trying to play field position, and then when we get opportunities, that is when we try to strike."
Deans knows Giteau is a rare gem, and he was thrilled to hear the praise lavished on him by ex-Wales star Davies. He said, "That's high praise from a bloke who knows, and high praise when you consider that a year hasn't gone yet since Stephen Larkham was still around. It was pretty early in the piece that I decided to play him at 10, and he has pretty much fulfilled all I had hoped for. He continues to get better - and long may that last."
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