Matt Giteau has quipped he will get his mother along next time to help improve the crowd atmosphere after the former Australia international made his first appearance in 14 years on Saturday in the Dent Cup. 

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Having called time on his stellar professional career earlier the year when the pandemic outbreak led to the cancellation of the 2020 Top League season, the 37-year-old came off the bench at the weekend for the Gungahlin Eagles in the tournament for first-grade teams in the Canberra area.  

It was 2006, just a few seasons into Giteau’s 103 Test match career with Australia, when the back last appeared in the local competition, but he was convinced by Marco Caputo, the Eagles coach, during a meeting in a cafe to make a comeback all these years later. 

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That return was due to happen last weekend but it was delayed a week and Giteau eventually appeared from the sideline wearing an unfamiliar No24 jersey. 

BarTV Sports, who were streaming the club match, tweeted a tongue-in-cheek welcome. “Listen to the roar of that crowd (in the crowd’s defence, it was pretty cold)! A pleasure to broadcast the return of a legend.” Giteau later replied, “Need some louder cheer squads next time. Have to bring mum.”

The veteran told RugbyPass earlier this year that 2020 would be his last in the professional ranks. “It was always decided that it was going to be my last year,” he said. “My kids are getting older now and it’s just harder and harder the time you spend away.

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“It’s not ideal but there are more pressing issues in the world – like I said, perspective’s a big thing. While I would’ve liked to end it differently, playing footy and trying to give everything I could for Suntory… If this is the end, then this is the end.”

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