25-year-old ACT Brumbies and Australian playmaker, Matt Toomua, is at risk of losing his number twelve Wallabies jersey under new laws regarding Australian eligibility introduced by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in April this year.
Dubbed the ‘Giteau Law’, any player who has represented the Wallabies in over 60 test matches and has been under contract with Australian Rugby Union for seven years, will have the opportunity to be selected.
This new rule is directed towards individuals who play for overseas clubs, mainly in Europe where prior to these changes, were ineligible to play for Australia.
When all players eligible were identified, there was one who stood out – Matt Giteau.
The 92-cap Wallaby veteran has the luxury of only being 32 years of age and provides a roadblock for Toomua and NSW Waratah Kurtley Beale, in gaining selection at Inside Centre for Australia's quest to World Cup glory.
There is no doubt that experience will substantially work in the favour of Giteau, having represented his country from 2002 until 2011, however, that exact statistic also works against him.
Giteau hasn’t played test match quality rugby in five years.
Even though he was honoured with the 2015 Player of the Year in France award, test match rugby is played on a whole new level, especially at the World Cup which will be held in the United Kingdom later this year.
International rugby is harder, faster and requires alternative strategies to be implemented to conquer star-studded line-ups. So for Giteau to gain a spot back in the Australian squad, it will require hard work and adjustment.
On the other hand, Toomua has been struck down with a bout of injuries, missing a significant amount of the Super Rugby season.
He suffered an ankle injury against the Auckland Blues in round 9, which was then followed by another ankle injury suffered in his return against the Lions in South Africa two weeks ago.
As the finals approach, Toomua is in a race against time to be fit. In spite of a recent form slump for the Brumbies, it is likely at this stage that the Waratahs will finish atop of the Australian conference, whilst the Brumbies will have to settle for a wildcard position.
Both Giteau and Toomua are extremely versatile, whilst also being very strong defenders, capable of marking high-quality opposition and preventing opponents from moving over the advantage line.
Toomua possesses the willingness and skill to play at fly half, and Giteau has the experience of playing at scrumhalf and fly half at an elite level. However, will a severe lack of international game time impact heavily on a return to test rugby for Giteau?
Either one of them would be an excellent choice, it’s just a matter of who will succeed, or whether someone else will beat them too it.
Knocking on both their doors is NSW Waratahs backline utility Kurtley Beale, who has had his fair share of troubling and extremely skilful moments in his career. With the injuries suffered by Toomua this season, Beale seems to be playing himself into contention for selection.
Inconsistency at a national, even domestic, level is arguably the point that is hampering Beale’s play and constant selection. There’s a strong possibility that Beale could take his place on the bench and bring a spark to the team later on in a particular match when it is needed the most.
Having said that, Toomua is likely to retain his starting spot at Inside Centre you would think, having played in that position for the majority of the last International season.
If Toomua is selected, he will be paired alongside Brumbies teammate Tevita Kuridrani, for at least the Rugby Championship, depending of course on how healthy he remains, because we all know how quickly things can change.
Come September, we could see the some old heads reappear and some current heads disappear.