Rugby World Cup
Wallabies star Matt Giteau in awe of magnitude of Rugby World Cup
Sam Bruce
September 23, 2015
Australia 28-13 Fiji (video available in Australia only)

Wallabies veteran Matt Giteau says the magnitude of the Rugby World Cup hit home while he was forced to watch the opening weekend on television, a predicament that lasted the entire tournament four years ago.

Giteau admitted to being in awe of the size and scale of rugby's greatest showpiece during the weekend's matches before he finally had the chance to take to the field in the Wallabies' hard-fought win over Fiji in Cardiff on Wednesday night.

The 96-Test veteran was the big omission from then-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' squad four years ago and subsequently packed his bags for Toulon. He has since gone on to win three consecutive European titles and a French Top 14 crown; his form so good that the Australian Rugby Union overhauled its foreign eligibility laws in a move dubbed the "Giteau clause".

Matt Giteau and the Wallabies
Matt Giteau and the Wallabies© Alyssa Schukar for ESPN

The 32-year-old Canberra native is now back on the game's biggest stage.

"Yeah, it's [World Cup] huge. It's really remarkable, not just for me, but for everyone," Giteau said following Australia's 28-13 triumph. "I think sitting back and watching those games [at the weekend] really made it set in and you see how big the World Cup is.

"And for me, when I missed it last time, I didn't realise, I suppose, what I was missing out on. But seeing this, the way it's held, the way it's run here, it was really special to get out there and be involved again."

Ruck'n Maul: A perfect start for Australia

The Wallabies looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory in Cardiff after Sekope Kepu added a third try to David Pocock's first-half double early in the second stanza. But the Aussies failed to put the Fijians away and found themselves defending for a large part of the final quarter.

The Wallabies faced the United States in Chicago on their way to the World Cup but that side was largely a B-Team, save for a few notable exceptions. Giteau said the extra wait to play their first World Cup match may have contributed to their patchy performance but the inside-centre also paid tribute to Fiji.

"It was very hard, obviously, against the Fijians, they'd had a game to warm into it," Giteau said. "For us, the hardest part's waiting. We had to wait four or five days to watch other teams play and it was good to get out there and we've got some things we did; some things we need to work on. But Fiji are a good team, so for us it was important to get that win; there's things to build on."

Why Australia might be disappointed

The biggest talking point to come out of the match was Australia's inability to pick up a four-try bonus-point, something England managed to do against Fiji with the last play of the game in the tournament opener.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was quick to play down the lack of a fourth try post-match, quipping: "it's not Super Rugby."

David Pocock scores the opening try for Australia against Fiji
David Pocock scores the opening try for Australia against Fiji© Michael Steele/Getty Images

Giteau echoed the coach's comments, saying winning took bonus points out of the knock-out conversation.

"Just take the W [win], absolutely," Giteau replied when asked about a decision that saw the Aussies' take a penalty goal 11 minutes from time. "For us there was an opportunity, obviously, to take it; but for us, we take each game at a time and hopefully for us the objective or the goal is to win every game and then bonus points don't make that much of a difference."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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