Rugby Union


Injured Genia a big loss to Wallabies: Giteau

Matt Giteau says Will Genia is the player the Wallabies will miss most on their European tour starting against France on Saturday.

France-based playmaker Giteau had no doubt the knee injury suffered by champion halfback Genia against South Africa in Perth in September was the biggest blow to a tour squad also without stars James Horwill, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor and Scott Higginbotham.

''It is true that they are missing several players but the one they will miss most is Will Genia - he is a huge loss,'' said Giteau.

''His replacement Nick Phipps plays really well but Genia is the sort of player that no side can afford to lose.''

After a career including 92 Tests for Australia, 31-year-old Giteau has been a big success playing for French competition leaders Toulon, with fellow veterans Jonny Wilkinson and Freddy Michalak.

He helped Toulon to the Top 14 final last season and signed a two-year contract extension last month.


Giteau accepted that his new contract meant his international career was over but believed that was probably the case since not being wanted by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans for last year's World Cup.

''Yes, I have brought the curtain down on my chances of ever playing for my country again,'' he said.

''But with the coach who is in charge of them at the moment, I don't have much of a chance of being called up in any case.

''Even if I had returned to Australia, a condition of being available again for selection, I would maybe not have been recalled.

''Thus I decided to stay at Toulon, where I am flourishing.

''But I remain a devoted supporter of the Australian team and I still have a lot of friends in the squad.''

Giteau had some sympathy for Cooper, who was heavily fined and received a suspended three-match ban for his recent outspoken public criticism of the Wallabies' set-up.

''Quade wanted to express how unhappy he was,'' said Giteau.

''He has since apologised. I also experienced difficult moments at international level - I didn't make the last World Cup.

''Robbie is as he is. The coaches like certain players and others less. It has always been the case. I don't enter into the plans of Robbie.''

Giteau was looking forward to returning to Australia with his wife and son for a two-week holiday after Toulon meet Clermont in a top-of-the-table clash this weekend.

But he made it clear he's very happy in France, hence his new contract.

''And even more importantly, my family are happy as well. That is the first reason.

''Also Toulon is a great team which has the possibility of winning several trophies.

''In my head, I had two options: to stay in France or return to Australia. I never even thought of trying my luck in England for example. When it came down to it, it was a relatively-easy decision to take.'' AAP-AFP