If it turns out to be the end, the glittering Wallabies career of Matt Giteau deserved a more dignified finish than his early exit from Australia’s crushing World Cup final defeat.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed a spectacular renaissance to his international career and been critical in getting the Wallabies to Saturday’s (Sunday AEDT) gutsy loss to back-to-back champions the All Blacks.
But there would be no fairytale ending for the inside centre, who was knocked unconscious 20 minutes into the 34-17 loss after reeling out of a tackle on giant New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick.
Giteau crashed to the ground, where he lay dazed for a short time before getting to his feet. However, a few stumbling steps brought the team medical officer to the pitch.
It took only 30 seconds for an independent medico to conduct Giteau’s concussion test and rule him out for the final 60 minutes of the match.
“He was not happy that he was ruled out of it,” coach Michael Cheika said.
“They ruled him out within 30 seconds. I’m not sure how that one worked out, but that’s the way they did it.
“The medical referee made that decision, that’s how he interpreted the situation.
“Gits gave me a gobful at halftime as to why he was off, but our hands are tied, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Giteau’s loss was a huge one for the Wallabies, who missed his cool head as a link man in the backline, and was a disappointing end for the only survivor from Australia’s previous World Cup final appearance in 2003.
“It’s extremely disappointing for him,” said teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper.
“I’m sure he would’ve liked to have stayed on the field a lot longer but it wasn’t the case.
“But that’s football and that’s life. You’ve just got to deal with it.”