Everyone’s missed the simple story on Matt
Giteau’s $1.5 million-a-year move to Perth: the 23-year-old is still living at home with
his oldies in Canberra – this is just a way of moving out without offending his folks. As The SMH reports:

He was still unsure whether it was the right call, as his mother was
upset that he would be moving out of the family home, but he is now certain he
has made the right decision. “Mum’s all right now, I took her shopping and got her a pair of
shoes,” he said, also joking he would have to convince his hairdresser to
move west as well.

See, becoming Australia’s
highest paid resident football player of any code had nothing to do with it.
Not bloody much it didn’t.

You could argue that the market price of
anything, including rugby players, is what someone is prepared to pay for them,
but with extremely good money on offer from ACT and NSW, logic says Giteau
would only move to the Western Force if he thought he was earning more than
he’s really worth.

In all of this, the words of Brumbies’
coach Laurie Fisher should be worrying for all involved:

I certainly don’t
think it’s the best thing for his football. He won’t be playing in ’07 outside
Stephen Larkham and inside Stirling Mortlock, he might be playing outside
[Force five-eighth] James Hilgendorf and inside [Force centre] Josh Graham.
There’s a significant difference there.

Will that
impact on the quality of his football? Yes it will, I think it will. Will there
be enormous pressure from the Perth community for him to be their saviour? Yes
there will be. Can that impact on the enjoyment of his rugby? Yes it
will.

Hard but entirely reasonable, Mr Fisher.

Giteau is relatively young, but he’s been
around for long enough to show if he can make the next jump. In my memory, he’s
had one stand-out game in a gold jumper – against the Barbarians, coming on as
a replacement. Otherwise, he’s a very good Brumbies player and an OK Wallaby.
I’d have Rogers or Turinui at in-centre before him.

At least there’s no need to worry about the
hairdresser – he can always share Matt Henjak’s.

Peter Fray

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