Giteau: Clermont are the favourites, not Toulon

Toulon’s Australian star back Matt Giteau says that their rivals Clermont are the favourites to win the all-French European Rugby Champions Cup final on Saturday.

While Giteau says Clermont will be favourites he adds the the two time and defending champions Toulon will not be giving up their title easily.

Thirty-two-year-old Giteau says that Clermont deserve to be called favourites as they were the best side this season both in Europe and domestically in what is a rematch of the 2013 final which Toulon won.

“Clermont are a wonderful team,” said Giteau, whose form looks set to earn him a recall to the Australian national side after the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) relaxed its rules on players playing abroad.

“For me, they are even the best team this year,” continued Giteau, who if he stays fit is likely to reach the 100 cap mark later in the year as he was just eight short when he was surprisingly dropped for the 2011 World Cup and subsequently moved to Toulon.

“They have played well all the time, they have done their work…For me they are favourites in the final, but in a match such as this there’s no harm not being favourites.

“Their qualities are such you cannot pinpoint one individual, in any case a disciplined defence for us will be paramount.

“We will have to work as a team and be very disciplined, even if it is a cliched answer.”

Giteau, who has been a pivotal player for Toulon in their run of success which has seen them secure two European Cups and a French championship, said their final from two years ago would have no bearing on this edition.

“We haven’t used that as a reference, the two teams are completely different,” he said.

“Without wishing to be disrespectful of the teams then, this is a different competition, with different players, of another calibre.

“I think we are well prepared for this match, and I hope we can win it.”

Giteau, who said he didn’t mind whether he played at fly-half or centre in the final as mercurial Frenchman Frederic Michalak could start in the former, claimed the possibility of creating history on Saturday in becoming the first team to win three successive European Cups had not entered the players minds this week.

“No, we haven’t spoken about it,” said Giteau.

“I don’t know really, we know it is something pretty special if it happens, but are we thinking about the treble, no.

“The treble is something you reflect on when you are 60-years-old, and say ‘ah yes, it is special’, but at the moment all that counts is winning the trophy.”

Giteau, who only returned to action recently after being out injured with the epic extra-time victory over Irish province Leinster in the semi-final earlier this month on just his second match back, said he wasn’t concerned that Twickenham might not be filled to the rafters for the spectacle.

“We would prefer that the stadium is full but if it isn’t, so be it,” said Giteau.

“The most important thing is winning. We are powerless to do anything to ensure the stadium is a sellout, we have no influence over that.

“If it is in front of 70,000 Toulon fans great, if it is not the case… so be it.”

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