Giteau's Test career in the balance with injury blow

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Matt Giteau’s Wallabies career looks over, after the 103-Test veteran suffered an ankle injury in the Wallabies’ loss to New Zealand.

Giteau went off in the 11th minute of the 42-8 defeat with ankle syndesmosis and may require surgery, depending on the severity of the injury.

While his course of recovery is not yet decided, the playmaker will miss the rest of the series, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said on Sunday morning.

Giteau came off in the 11th minute. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyGiteau, who sacrificed a major chunk of his Toulon salary to feature in the Bledisloe and Rugby Championship, was already unlikely to play Tests beyond this series but he has been robbed of the chance to make his own decision.

Rob Horne will also miss the rest of the series, likely set for shoulder surgery after dislocating the joint in the loss.

Horne has a history of shoulder injuries and the options for his recovery will be assessed in the coming days.

Matt Toomua will also likely miss the Wellington Test with concussion, though he will be monitored under the return to play protocols this week.

Cheika said Giteau was understandably disappointed, but also pragmatic about the injury. 

“Yeah, well, that's always the possibility in the games of injury, we know that,” he said.

“Sometimes they come in triples like last night, sometimes they don't come at all.

“He's disappointed but he's also very realistic, he's a pro, he knows that he's still got to get himself right and get back to his club commitments for later in the season so that’s what he'll be doing.”

The injuries leave the Wallabies in a major hole at inside centre, though Cheika said there were a few options that he could consider for the second Test, including reverting to the dual ball carrier structure of the June series.

“We'll have a look at that today around the possible options that we've got,” he said.

“A couple of our playmakers as well in those three guys that'll be missing.

Israel Folau could switch into the midfield. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“We'll take a look at - obviously Quade's (Cooper) here and Reece Hodge who's been playing 12 for us and playmaker a little bit.

“So, there's a few other options - we could go for two ball carriers as opposed to two playmakers like we did in England.

“We'll see how that pans out over the week.”

Cheika didn’t rule out the possibility of switching Israel Folau to outside centre, though said his preference was for the star Waratah to stay at 15.