Giteau focusing on shutting down Cipriani

Australia fly-half Matt Giteau knows better than most just how important it is for the Wallabies to counter the threat posed by opposite number Danny Cipriani if they are to beat England on Saturday.

Of all the players in England’s youthful back division Cipriani’s position, not to mention his ability, arguably makes him the most pivotal.

The 21-year-old may have made only two Tests starts compared to Giteau’s 50 run-ons and 62 caps in all but the Wallaby playmaker, returning to the Twickenham ground where he made his international debut six years ago, is an admirer of the gifted, if still unproven, Cipriani.

“He’s obviously got a very good kicking game, he directs play very well and he’s an elusive runner who can pass the ball very well on both sides,” said the 26-year-old Giteau.

“A lot of their attack rolls around their nine and 10, like most sides. So I think he’s very pivotal on how the side plays and I’m looking forward to playing him.”

Asked if he had a plan to stop Cipriani, Giteau jokingly replied: “I do, but I won’t be telling anyone. Maybe after the game I’ll say whether my plan worked or not.

“They’ve got a new backline and they look like they love to attack so that’s something we need to be wary of.”

One area where England have identified a need for Cipriani to improve is in his defence.

In this respect, as much as goalkicking, it doesn’t help the Wasps stand-off that he is following in the footsteps of injured England hero Jonny Wilkinson, arguably the toughest-tackling No 10 of his generation.

“Danny wants to be one of the best players in the world and he realises one of the responsibilities of a fly-half who wants to be number one is that he has got to defend in that channel,” said England defence coach Mike Ford.

“If we hide someone in defence and the opposition don’t get him in the first phase, they will get him second. My experience at international level is that they will find him out.

“We understand that and Danny does as well. So he might as well front up now, early in his career and get that part of his game right both physically and mentally – and he is doing that.

“Cipriani made 13 tackles against the Pacific Islanders last weekend (a match England won 39-13 with their outside-half contributing 19 points) so we know he can tackle.”

Giteau, though, will be looking to unleash an Australia back division well-capable of putting that ability to the test.

He has contrasting recollections of both Twickenham and England, who followed up their 2003 World Cup final win over Australia by beating the Wallabies in the quarter-finals of last year’s edition in France.

“I’ve got some mixed memories of Twickenham. The first game was a great occasion to win the first cap but I was a little disappointed with the way I played,” Giteau said.

“But the second time I played better and we won the game. Hopefully this time will be another good memory.”

Sapa-AFP –

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