Despite a superb renaissance to Matt Giteau’s Wallabies career, the Rugby World Cup appears destined to be his international swan song.
Giteau will play his 100th Test on Sunday (Monday 0200 AEDT) when the Wallabies take on Scotland at Twickenham with a World Cup semi-final berth on the line.
It’s an honour he thought unimaginable when he quit Australian shores at the end of 2011, seemingly stranded on 92 Test caps after a public falling out with then-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans which led to his non-selection at the 2011 World Cup.
He was thrown a lifeline by the Australian Rugby Union this year, with coach Michael Cheika orchestrating a change to the rules surrounding Wallaby selection – for the first time, the most-experienced overseas-based players like Giteau were ruled eligible.
Now, should things go to plan, he has three matches left in the gold jersey before making a decision on his future in the international game – and he admits going out with a World Cup win will be hard to beat.
There are two glaring omissions from Giteau’s extensive rugby CV: a Bledisloe Cup series win over the All Blacks and a World Cup winner’s medal.
“Bledisloe, I’m not too sure whether that’s achievable – I’ll reassess at the end of the World Cup,” he told AAP.
“But a World Cup would be a very, very nice way to end.”
At 33, Giteau’s body is starting to feel the wear and tear of nearly a decade and a half in the international arena.
However, he’s become a key member of Cheika’s squad, once again making his mark on the international game by providing a calm head in the backline.
He insists he won’t make his mind up on retirement until after the tournament, and isn’t leaning one way or the other.
The only thoughts he’s letting into his mind at the moment involve winning three more games and getting to hold the Webb Ellis Cup.
“My mindset was to get back, play Australian rugby and, if I feel I’m up to the standard, then I’ll push for a World Cup spot,” he said.
“I’ve done that and I feel like I’m adding value to the team.
“Now I’m just focusing on these next three games.
“After that, I’ll reassess where I’m at and make a decision after that.
“I’m not swaying here or there. I’m just focusing on these three games and putting all my energy into that.”