Rugby World Cup
Deans open to Giteau return
September 24, 2011
Giteau was the high profile omission from the original 30-man squad © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has refused to ruled out the possibility of Matt Giteau making a sensational return to the Wallabies squad in the midst of a potential injury crisis.
Deans was faced with a lengthy casualty list following their 67-5 demolition of the United States in Wellington on Friday night. But by Saturday morning concerns over Anthony Fainga'a (concussion) had eased, while a decision on bringing in any replacements would be left until Rob Horne (fractured cheekbone), Pat McCabe (dislocated shoulder) and Wycliff Palu (hamstring) had been further assessed in Christchurch where the team will have a few days' rest ahead of facing Russia next weekend.
"We won't be making any decisions (on replacements) in the next probably 48 hours," Deans said. "We'll make sure we are fully aware and fully informed before we move.
"We trained with 40 earlier in the year so it's pretty evident where we will be looking to. (Giteau) is obviously in the frame for a potential call-up. He was in the 40."
Deans revealed Horne had a minor displacement of his cheekbone, while McCabe's dislocated shoulder did not appear to be "as grave as it potentially could have been". Palu will have an MRI scan on his hamstring in Christchurch.
Hat-trick hero Adam Ashley-Cooper was part of the walking wounded, which included Kurtley Beale (tight hamstring), after hurting his ankle but he was confident he would be fit for the Russia game. Surprisingly it was Fainga'a who pulled up the best of the injured group despite being knocked out cold and taken off on a stretcher in a neck brace in the closing minutes of the match.
"He has presented very well this morning," said Deans. "He was up last night and can recall everything including the moments leading up to the tackle. So that's a great sign.
"(Concussion) is not something we mess around with so we'll monitor him and make sure he is fully recovered before he re-enters the fray."
Team-mate Berrick Barnes is only too aware how debilitating concussion can be having missed several weeks of the Waratahs' Super Rugby campaign and the Wallabies' June Tests because of ongoing symptoms. "It was good to get a trot out there and it was exciting just to be part of a World Cup again," Barnes said. "You obviously want to play and last night I got the chance to do that.
"It was a big buzz. It was a buzz for a number of other blokes like Sharpie, Rob Simmons and a few other guys as well. I was definitely happy to get out there. The atmosphere was good. Plenty of people hate the Aussies as you could hear out there. But it was good to see a bit of gold out there too."
Barnes, who replaced Beale shortly before half-time at Wellington Regional Stadium, admitted there were times earlier in the year when he feared his career might be over.
"In Super Rugby I had some serious doubts. I just said to myself I've got to take a break and I'll come back again when I'm feeling right and we'll just play it by ear from there," Barnes said. "At the end of Super Rugby the World Cup was the last thing on my mind. I'm pretty rapt to be here and to get a start which is great."
He could find his playing time increases given the injury crisis in the midfield. Deans did not rule out slotting him in at number 12. "That is a choice that we have. When you look at some of the injuries we picked up in the midfield that's a possibility," Deans said.
He also confirmed the 25-year-old was the first-choice back-up to Quade Cooper at fly-half. "Obviously it depends on any given 22. But if Berrick is involved then absolutely," Deans said. "That was one real positive to come out of the game. Berrick hadn't played at that level for a long time. In the back of his mind there would have been some demons but he did well."
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