Western Force star Matt Giteau walks out on the franchise just two games into the Super 14 season.
Tim Clarke writes in WAToday that departing Western Force superstar Matt Giteau has denied money or a fall out with coach John Mitchell was behind his decision to walk out on the Perth club just two games into the season.
The Force’s worst fears came true today when their talisman and face of rugby in WA announced he was returning to Canberra to play with his original club the Brumbies for the next two years.
The collapse of the multi-million dollar deal with debunked fuel technology company Firepower, which brought Giteau to Perth in 2007, was the catalyst for today’s announcement – which comes just a week before the Force play the Brumbies.
But the Wallaby playmaker said if money had been his only motivation he would have stayed in Perth, after club sponsor ET Mining offered him a $1.6 million deal to make up the Firepower losses – a deal Giteau turned down.
“There were many promises made, and certain things not kept, so I am proud of myself that I have honoured my contract, saw out my three years here,” Giteau said.
“We have all got to make decisions, I have made mine now. I could just see the opportunity to go back where it started, and family and things are there.
“If it was about money I would have stayed here.
“The Firepower saga was going on and it was always there, and a few of the players that were involved in it found it tough.
“When you were not playing or training you were always chasing it up to see what was happening with it.
“It was Firepower that got me here initially, and had that not come about I would probably have stayed in Canberra.
“I am very grateful in some respects that Firepower came about because it gave me the opportunity to come and play here and live here and that is something I will always be a little bit grateful for.
On the subject of Mitchell, Giteau denied any rift.
“I have never had an issue with Mitch, he’s been good.”
Giteau’s loss is a hammer blow to the Force, who are already struggling with falling memberships and crowds because of fan dissatisfaction with Subiaco Oval, and with around 20 players coming out of contract at the end of the year.
Remaining uncertainty over coach Mitchell’s position following the vote of no confidence in him before Christmas is also lingering.
Giteau and his teammates will have to play the rest of the season knowing his leaving.
And the star admitted he was unsure what effect the timing of the announcement would have on the team’s performance
“I don’t know that one yet, we will wait and see. Hopefully the group will support my decision. When I was in Canberra I had to play the final two games there knowing I was coming to Perth,” he said.
“The boys were great there; hopefully it will be the same here.”
Force CEO Greg Harris admitted hard work was ahead of the club to prevent Giteau’s departure having a domino effect on other players.
“It will test the resolve of the club, but when you look at it we have got several other internationals at the club … but the organisation has shown it can develop players,” Harris said.
“Whilst there is no doubt every rugby player in Australia would like to stand next to this fella, the club will have to stand on its own digs and be able to promote the fact it is well resourced and able to develop its own talent.”
In contrast, Brumbies Rugby CEO Andrew Fagan was obviously delighted.
“Matt left the Brumbies on good terms and we wished him all the best, but we made no secret about our desire to see him back in Brumbies colours,” Fagan said.
“Matt is a local product who rose through our development program to become an integral member of the Wallabies and it will be great to have him back in a Brumbies jersey to represent the region he is so fond of.
“He is a rugby superstar and one of the highest profile sportspeople in this country.
“His return is a huge vote of confidence in the Brumbies program and great news for Canberra and Brumbies Rugby.”Tweet