Giteau to play at No.10 against Stormers

Million-dollar man Matt Giteau is set to repay the next instalment of the Western Force’s investment in him when he turns out at fly-half for them on their tour of South Africa – starting against the Stormers next Friday.

Giteau is set to take over in the No.10 jersey from injured fly-half James Hilgendorf, who damaged his groin in the Force’s 8-7 loss to the Highlanders in a Round One Super 14 match in Perth at the weekend.

Hilgendorf joined his team-mates on the flight to Johannesburg on Saturday, after a scan revealed he had not torn the groin muscle – an injury that saw him leave the field just before half-time in the loss to the Highlanders.

However, it has been revealed that Hilgendorf is almost certain to miss the opening tour match, against the Stormers in Cape Town on Friday, 9 February.

And with Giteau having taken over at fly-half after Hilgendorf’s injury, he is now earmarked to start in the No.10 jersey against the Stormers.

Western Force coach John Mitchell was excited about the prospect of Giteau repaying his next instalment in the No.10 jersey, even though he did not live up to the pre-match expectations in his first outing for the Perth franchise.

“He will get better with time with the other players,” Mitchell said when asked about Giteau.

“It was his first full hit-out, but he is a pretty hard man to handle.”

Meanwhile Mitchell said he is hoping that his high-profile off-season signings will produce the quality of rugby they are capable of when they tour South Africa – where the Force will face the Stormers (February 9) and Bulls (a week later).

Mat Giteau (signed from the Brumbies for the biggest pay cheque in Australian Rugby Union history), Rugby League convert Ryan Cross and Drew Mitchell (signed from the Reds) made more errors than you would have expected from players at this level.

However, Mitchell felt these players needed more time to jell.

“If I am going to make an excuse, [the backs] are young in terms of relationship, and they’ll need time together,” Mitchell said.

“In attack, we didn’t control the ball well enough … it was a night when attack was pretty ugly for both sides, and a lot of it was our own doing.

“But we will be patient with them, and continue to work on the combinations.”

Mitchell named a 26-man squad for the two-match trip to South Africa and there are no surprises.

Western Force squad:

Backs: Cameron Shepherd, Chris O’Young, Digby Ioane, Drew Mitchell, Haig Sare, James Hilgendorf, Junior Pelesasa, Matt Giteau, Matt Henjak, Ryan Cross, Scott Daruda, Scott Staniforth

Forwards: AJ Whalley, Angus Scott, Brendan Cannon, David Pocock, David Pusey, Gareth Hardy, Luke Doherty, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe (c), Richard Brown, Rudi Vedelago, Scott Fava, Tai McIsaac, Troy Takiari

365 Digital

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