Former star Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau is being touted as a potential replacement for ex-teammate Stephen Larkham as Australia’s attack coach ahead of this year’s World Cup.
Whispers of Giteau’s appointment to the role have been audible since Larkham’s sacking by head coach Michael Cheika in early February, with differences in coaching philosophies and attacking strategies spelling the end of Larkham’s role in the side.
Cheika is yet to find a replacement for the former 102-test first-five, with the appointment of Scott Johnson in the newly-founded director of rugby role delaying the search for a suitable candidate.
However, speaking on Fox Sports during their Super Rugby pre-match show on the weekend, Giteau hinted at the possibility of joining the national set-up as the side’s attack coach.
Asked whether he would be at the World Cup in a coaching capacity during a ‘yay, nay or hard to say’ segment, Giteau responded with a lengthy pause before reluctantly saying “nay”.
“I’m available, but it won’t be from a paid employment point of view,” he said.
His delayed answer came after he showed no hesitation in answering the previous question about whether he would come out of international retirement for the tournament, to which he immediately said “nay”.
While having never previously been employed as a coach, Giteau has some coaching experience, which he first developed as a player-coach over a brief period during his time at Toulon after incumbent head coach Mike Ford quit his role in 2017, while he also reportedly spent time with the Brumbies this season as well.
The limited experience he has within the realm of coaching could work in Giteau’s favour should he want to fill the Wallabies’ coaching vacancy, especially given the prerequisites Cheika outlined for his preferred candidate to Fox Sports over the weekend.
“The person we bring in will be someone I think that will be with the players, on field a lot, not build a lot of strategy, more getting players to embrace strategy and understand it so it’s automatic on the field,” Cheika said.
Other names rumoured to be in the conversation to plug the gap in Australia’s backroom staff include Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson and Rebels assistant Shaun Berne, as well as Scots College director of rugby Brian Smith.
Cheika is also understood to be consulting with a raft of rugby personalities for advice on who could fill the role, including former Wallabies fullback Chris Latham, ex-World Cup-winning hooker Phil Kearns, Australian women’s sevens star Charlotte Caslick, “some rugby league types”, and Giteau himself.
However, given Cheika’s preference for the successful candidate to immerse themselves among the players on-field, Giteau would appear best suited to the position given his experience, understanding and relationship of the current generation of players.
Giteau, capped 103 times internationally, last featured for the Wallabies as a player in 2016, and retired from test rugby last year.
He featured in three World Cups, including the most recent tournament in 2015, where the Wallabies fell short of their third world title after losing 34-17 to New Zealand at Twickenham.
He currently plies his trade for Japanese Top League club Suntory Sungoliath.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.