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Giteau learning the hard way at flyhalf

By Tim Clarke 14/05/2008 05:28:43 PM Comments (0)

After admitting life as a fulltime flyhalf has hit him hard, Western Force playmaker Matt Giteau wants to end an undulating Super 14 season on a high against his former Brumbies teammates.

Friday night signals the end of domestic duties for the Force and the Brumbies, with Wallaby selections and personal pride the two main elements of competition.

With the loser of the clash destined to finish the season in negative territory, Giteau says he comes into the last game of the year following his worst, against the Hurricanes in Wellington last week.

And reflecting on year that has seen him become the Force's chief playmaker, and vice-captain, the 25-year-old admitted a school of hard knocks - including one concussion that knocked him out of action for two weeks - had taught him a lot this season.

"It has been difficult for me, the first time I have played a full season at flyhalf and also vice-captaincy. I have learned a lot this year," Giteau said.

"(Being targeted physically), I think that comes with the territory at flyhalf, and the new rules make it easier to get at a flyhalf.

"But it is nothing I am complaining about, you have got to be prepared for it and play football. Tackling, getting hit late is all part of football - you have just got to take it."

A year which started so strongly for the Force away from home stalled on their return to Perth, and then ground to a halt against the Waratahs and Reds.

A chance of redemption against the third of their Australian rivals is little compensation for Giteau, despite obvious motivations against his old side.

"It has been a bit disappointing, as this competition out of all the competitions I have been involved has been the most open," Giteau said.

"The Crusaders are streaks ahead of everyone else in terms of points, but if you look at the teams and the games they have all been pretty tight."

And after a year of physical punishment, Giteau says he is expecting no favours from the outfit he left in a blaze of controversy two seasons ago.

"I certainly expect them to come hard at me and not give me any favours, a bit because of my history with the club but also a bit because I'm playing flyhalf now and that probably comes with the territory," Giteau said.

"If anything you probably want to go a little harder against your old team. So I'll be keen to see what they've got for me and keen to see what I can do."

The Brumbies made two changes to their starting XV, with winger Francis Fainifo and scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs replacing Afusipa Taumoepeau and Josh Holmes.

Coach Laurie Fisher said the last day of term would not mean his men would be keen to "throw the ball around frivolously".

"We have a focus on consolidating on what we've worked on throughout the season and continue developing towards 2009," Fisher said.

ACT Brumbies: Mark Gerrard, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Tyrone Smith, Francis Fainifo, Christian Lealiifano, Patrick Phibbs, Stephen Hoiles, George Smith, Mitchell Chapman, Mark Chisholm, Alister Campbell, Guy Shepherdson, John Ulugia, Nic Henderson. Res: Saia Faingaa, Salesi Maafu, Peter Kimlin, Julian Salvi, Joshua Holmes, Matt Toomua, Afusipa Taumoepeau.

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