SPURNED Wallaby Matt Giteau has the chance to cap his debut season for Toulon by lifting the European Challenge Cup in Friday’s all-French final against Biarritz in London. Alongside him will be his trans Tasman rival and former All Black enforcer Carl Hayman.
Giteau, 29, missed out on a spot in Australia’s 30-man squad for last year’s World Cup and had a very public falling out with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
However the elusive former Brumbies and Force playmaker has impressed in his stint in southern France, spending most of his debut season at inside centre outside English veteran Jonny Wilkinson.
Cashed-up Toulon have not won a trophy for two decades and the pressure will be on big name recruits such as Giteau to deliver at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night.
The match in south-west London is also a chance for 2003 World Cup winner Wilkinson to end his 15-year drought in Europe competition, having been part of Toulon’s losing side in the 2010 final.
Australian Luke Rooney has been named in Toulon’s 26-man squad for the clash against a Biarritz side that boasts the likes of the scheming half Dimitri Yachvili and man mountain Imanol Harinordoquy.
Toulon finished third at the end of the regular season in the Top 14 competition and remain in the hunt for their first championship since 1992.
Toulon’s head coach Bernard Laporte said Giteau, who played 92 Tests during his nine-year international career, was a key player for his club.
“Matt is an extraordinary player,” Laporte said.
“When he gets a lot of possession he is dangerous and I know that well from my time as coach of France.
“When we played against him we spoke about him all week. He is a crucial part of our team.
“He wants to play more and more games at fly-half but he has to be patient.”
Biarritz have endured a topsy-turvy season but Harinordoquy believed his side was on the up.
“That’s the way it is with Biarritz Olympique – we produce the worst and the best.” he said.
“Right now it seems that we are closer to our best and that’s great.” – AAP
Tickets are selling fast for this blockbuster final. Get your tickets now for Toulon v Biarritz in the European Challenge Cup on Friday (18 May) at Twickenham Stoop.