World Cup tables turning for Giteau

by staff

Matt Giteau knows what it’s like to play a Rugby World Cup on home turf.

Giteau will be the only remaining player from the 2003 World Cup to feature in Saturday’s Twickenham clash against England.

In front of 82,957 people at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, Australia’s hopes of winning their home Cup were dashed in the final minute of extra time by an infamous Jonny Wilkinson drop goal.

The then 21-year-old came off the bench as a temporary substitution for fly half, and current Wallabies assistant, Stephen Larkham.

Twelve years later, the tables have turned, with Australia facing England at Twickenham in what is shaping up as a sudden death match for the hosts after they lost to Wales on the weekend.

With Wycliff Palu's departure from the 2015 squad, Giteau is now the oldest Wallaby as Australia prepares to turn the tables on England in their home cup.

The versatile back, who turned 33 on Tuesday, said he remembers the feeling of playing World Cup matches at home and how much the side thrived off that opportunity.

“Back in 2003, it was awesome to play in front of your home crowd,” he said.

“For me that was something very special and I’m sure it’s very much similar for the English team.

“They’d be loving playing at home in a familiar stadium, getting the crowd behind them.”

Giteau said England’s loss to Wales last weekend made little difference to the stakes from the Wallabies’ perspective, with the side focused on winning every pool game.

“Say they won last week, we wouldn’t be thinking England’s going to be easier,” he said.

“We don’t really have the right to say they’re strong one week, they’re weak the next week.

“For us we’ve always through this game was going to be really, really tough.

“I think England have thought they’re always going to bring whatever they can to this game as well or any game so results don’t really change their mindset or how they want to play.

“They want to win, we want to win and that’s the way it is every game.”

Since that final, the teams have played 14 times, once in a World Cup, with eight matches going Australia’s way and the teams splitting their eight Twickenham matches, with four each.

England has won three of the past four clashes between the two sides but Giteau said the side wouldn’t be looking at the game as part of the sides’ bigger rivalry.

“We’re focusing on England and you don’t look at it as a rivalry, you look at them as the opposition,” he said.

“That’s who we’re playing this week and we need to be better if we want to achieve what we want.”

Giteau said in the lead up to the side’s opening games that he and Toulon teammate had sought advice from former England flyhalf and their clubmate about his World Cup experience but said they hadn’t spoken this week.

If Australia manages to outperform the hosts, Giteau joked he would be letting Wilkinson know.

“He won’t answer my call this week,” he said.

“I’ve tried him a lot. He won’t answer me this week, maybe next week.

“I’d make him feel guilty (for those tips).”