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Matt Giteau a marked man in European Cup final

Date

Julian Guyer

Matt Giteau will be heavily marked in the European Cup final.

Matt Giteau will be heavily marked in the European Cup final. Photo: AFP

Former Wallaby Matt Giteau will be a carefully marked man when his French club Toulon meet England outfit Saracens in Saturday's European Cup final in Cardiff.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by the imminent retirement of Toulon five-eighth Jonny Wilkinson. The England great – 35 on Sunday – is set to bow out from all rugby following next weekend's French Top 14 final against Castres.

Saracens, in their first European Cuo final, are also eyeing a "double" before their English Premiership final with Northampton.

Wilkinson's remorseless goal-kicking was responsible for all of reigning European champions Toulon's points in their 24-12 semi-final win over Saracens last season.

But Saracens coach Mark McCall has been impressed too by 31-year-old inside-centre Giteau, who won the last of his 92 Wallaby caps three years ago.

"He [Giteau] is a very special player, because he's got not only a fantastic passing game, he kicks the ball well, he's stronger and quicker than most people think," McCall said.

"And he's at his most dangerous when he's at the line with a winger on his inside, and you can't take your eye off him for a second, he's a superb player."

Giteau, for his part, would just like to help one-time rival Wilkinson go out on a high.

"Jonny is the ultimate professional," said Giteau, a member of the Australia side beaten by Wilkinson's boot in the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals in Marseille and a temporary replacement when the England star's extra-time drop-goal downed the Wallabies in a thrilling Sydney final four years earlier.

"It is incredibly important for us to have him sign off with a trophy.

"He was instrumental in helping me settle in Toulon when I joined three years ago ... It has been a pleasure to be in the same team."

Wilkinson has, typically, tried to remove himself from the spotlight by saying: "I would like to focus all my attention and energy on the team and these final two games of the season."

Toulon, bankrolled by wealthy publisher Mourad Boudjellal, boast a star-studded team. South Africa wing Bryan Habana joins Wilkinson and Giteau in the backs, while up front they have formidable locks in Springbok Bakkies Botha and All Black Ali Williams.

In some ways, their side is reminiscent of the one Saracens, still backed by millionaire businessman Nigel Wray, fielded in the early days of professional rugby union when South Africa's Francois Pienaar, Australia's Michael Lynagh and France's Philippe Sella all played for the north London club.

However, McCall was in no doubt that Toulon, coached by former France boss Bernard Laporte, were a star side, not a side full of stars.

"There are examples of teams who have spent a lot of money, or brought in stars, and then not delivered," the former Ireland international said.

"But Toulon seem to have chosen very well, with the squad they have got they have a great togetherness, spirit and camaraderie, and on top of that they are all good players."

AAP

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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