Gregan welcomes challenge to No.9 jersey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gregan welcomes challenge to No.9 jersey

By James Dampney 14/11/2006 08:05:25 PM Comments (0)

George Gregan says he has no regrets at skipping the Wallabies' European tour, despite Matt Giteau's emergence as a real threat to his halfback spot ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

The world's most capped Test player was happy to acknowledge that Giteau had done well in his switch from centre to Test halfback in his absence.

"Gits is a great player. He is always going to put someone under pressure because he's such a good player and he's adapted really well to nine (halfback)," said Gregan.

"He played it as a junior and played it through (under) 21s, so he's done really well. I expect nothing less from a bloke like him."

The versatile Giteau won many plaudits for his first Test as a halfback in the 29-29 draw with Wales in Cardiff 10 days ago and was solid when retained in the position for the scratchy win over Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Some pundits have suggested 24-year-old Giteau is now the man to spark the stuttering Wallabies from the scrumbase on a permanent basis as they seek much-needed form ahead of the World Cup.

But Gregan, Australia's first choice halfback for a decade, had no second thoughts about opting to miss the tour to get a stronger preparation for next year's packed schedule which is capped by the World Cup tournament in France.

"Not at all. This decision was made for next year, for 2007, and it's the best thing for me," said Gregan after playing in the Australian Open golf pro-am at Royal Sydney.

"I've been able to get some really good training and good regeneration over this period and I'm really looking forward over the next three weeks to spending some time down in Canberra with the Brumbies.

"Then I'm obviously looking to the season which starts early February, so I'm really happy where I am mentally and physically at the moment."

Far from fearing the added competition, he welcomed it and clearly still believed he could reclaim the starting halfback role in 2007.

"Next year it all starts from zero, I say it every year. You start with a clean slate and that's all I'm concerned about.

"It's great for the team for us to have that, I guess, question answered of whether he can play halfback and play it well.

"He's showing that he can and that's good for the squad going into the World Cup and it's always good to have competition."

Gregan wasn't ready to contemplate how he'd feel if handed a back up role to Giteau.

"You're talking hypothetically," he said.

"We'll just wait and see how it all pans out. February third will probably give you a good idea, I think that's when Super 14 kicks off.

"That goes till May and it's 2007, not much I can do from a playing point of view now.

"I can just get myself right physically for next year and that's what I'm doing at the moment."

Gregan also wouldn't dismiss Australia's chances of a good showing at the World Cup, despite an indifferent couple of years at Test level.

While conceding New Zealand was clearly the stand out side at present, Gregan said Australia "historically does pretty well" in World Cups and felt there could be plenty of change between now and the opening match in France on September 7.

"There's a lot of football to be played, a lot of things can happen, guys can get injured," he said.

"It's going to be an exciting tournament and there's going to be half a dozen teams who come that time of the year will be a really strong chance of being at the pointy end of the competition."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news