Giteau in doubt for Force grudge match - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Giteau in doubt for Force grudge match

By Jim Morton 27/01/2010 07:25:56 PM Comments (0)

While one agent provocateur - Berrick Barnes - is back, Super 14's mouth-watering opening round of Australian grudge matches may be robbed of the other.

Western Force defector Matt Giteau is racing against time to be fit to make his return to Brumbies colours against his old team in the February 12 season-opener in Perth.

Giteau is in doubt for the Australian derby after suffering a quad strain during sprint work at training on Monday.

At the very least, the injury has ruled the Wallabies five-eighth out of the Brumbies' final pre-season trial against the NSW Waratahs in Canberra on February 4.

A desperate Giteau remains confident he'll be able to face his former team-mates at Members Equity Stadium but medics say his availability will be touch and go.

"Medically the physios and doctors are saying he's right on the edge but Gits tells me he's a quick healer and I'm the eternal optimist," Brumbies coach Andy Friend said.

Giteau's blow comes as fellow Wallabies playmaker Barnes has been named to make his return from an ankle injury in NSW's Saturday trial against the Fiji Warriors in Orange.

The Waratahs have named Barnes at five-eighth in an indication he will have the first-receiver duties for the opening-round clash against his old team at his old home ground, Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia coach Robbie Deans' other genuine five-eighth option, Quade Cooper, is currently sidelined due to a burglary charge but he may be cleared to start the Super 14 for the Reds after undergoing a personal development course.

Giteau, who felt a twinge as he decelerated at the end of a 40-metre sprint, has rued the timing of the injury as Friend is yet to decide whether to play the 78-Test inside back at No.10 or 12.

"It's not ideal," Giteau said.

"Obviously trying to get combinations and learning the patterns and players and things like that and playing the trial matches you get a lot out of those.

"(The Force) is the first game of the Super 14 and obviously (I've been) brought back to the Brumbies now so it's a game I really want to play and there's a bit of history there as well."

Friend will use both Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua at both five-eighth and fullback in their first pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Porirua on Friday.

Where Giteau slots in for the season will now rely on some guesswork after being open to a shift back to inside centre.

"He's basically said he'll play wherever we'd like him to play but would like to stick to that position and that's what we intend to do," Friend said.

"Ideally you would have liked to have given him the chance to run in the 10 jersey and the 12 jersey and made your mind up based on that.

"We've seen enough footy from Matty Giteau to know what he can do, it's really how these other fellas fit in with him."

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