George Gregan has no regrets about missing Australia’s year-end tour even though calls for Matt Giteau to replace him as scrumhalf have grown louder.
Gregan, the world’s most capped player with 127 Test appearances, opted to stay in Australia when given the choice by the selectors after the Vodacom Tri-Nations.
Many believe that Giteau brings an added attacking dimension to the Wallaby backline with his quick service from the ruckbase, while others attribute the recent impotence of their backline to his shift to scrumhalf.
Stephen Larkham looks like he could settle into the inside centre role but one only has to look a the impact Giteau made when shifted from scrumhalf to inside centre against Wales two weeks ago to realise his value in the No 12 shirt.
With Sam Cordingley, Brett Sheehan and Josh Valentine all challenging for a starting berth in the No 9 shirt, coach John Connolly will be reluctant to permanently move Giteau from a role he has become accustomed to.
Gregan praised the Western Force man, but was adamant that he would be the first-choice scrumhalf at the World Cup in France next year.
“Gits is a great player. He is always going to put someone under pressure because he’s such a good player and he’s adapted really well to nine,” Gregan told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He played it as a junior and played it through (under) 21s, so he’s done really well. I expect nothing less from a bloke like him.
“But this decision [for him to miss the tour] was made for 2007, and it’s the best thing for me,” Gregan said.
“I’ve been able to get some really good training and good regeneration over this period and I’m really looking forward over the next three weeks to spending some time down in Canberra with the Brumbies.
“Then I’m obviously looking to the season which starts early February, so I’m really happy where I am mentally and physically at the moment.”