Mitchell says Giteau is staying with the Force


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Western Force coach John Mitchell says that he understands why Matt Giteau is considering the highly lucrative offer from French club Bayonne but still expects him to honour his contract and play for the Force in 2009.

Reports have stated that Giteau has been offered $9.6m from Bayonne even though he has a contract with the Force until after the 2009 Super 14 and is contracted with the ARU until 2011.

“I have no issue with it at all,” said Mitchell, who was in Sydney for a three-day SANZAR conference.

“At the end of the day everyone has rights.” he told the Australian.

“We expect Matt to honour his contract in 09 and we expect to see him back on January 5 when all our internationals return.

“We are all looking forward to him returning. I have that expectation. We have that expectation.

“The (Force) administration and the ARU are the ones who will deal with the contract matters that exist. That’s certainly out of my hands.”

Even though the ARU have stated that they will not release their top play maker Giteau has added fuel to the speculation fire by saying that he will spend the next two weeks thinking about the offer.

“At the end of the day you just want to know one way or the other,” Mitchell said.

“That’s the way life works I guess. You can’t afford to be halfway in and halfway out.

“He is really developing as a fly-half. He has matured a lot this year as a footballer and a person and I thought he had a bloody good tour (of Hong Kong and Europe).”

If Giteau cannot leave Australia because of his ARU contract he can play for another Australian Super 14 team in 2010-11 and that is most likely to be the Brumbies who say that they will announce a major signing on Thursday.

Giteau’s management has argued that he should be allowed to leave the Force next year because of the loss of his sponsorship with failed fuel technology company Firepower.

The ARU has however not accepted the argument and has instructed Giteau to play at the Force.

Whether Giteau leaves Perth next year or the year after, Mitchell is already thinking about a potential replacement five-eighth – teenage Wallabies utility back James O’Connor – who played inside centre this year.

“Certainly, he has the ability to play at 12,” Mitchell said.

“He has the ability to play at 10.

“With Matty coming off contract after 09, he has a future at the club as a fly-half if Matt doesn’t commit beyond that. And he can also play fullback.”

The Force have signed former Wallabies halfback Josh Valentine in the off season to partner with Giteau. “Josh is really hungry,” Mitchell said.

“He’ll certainly create competition with Chris O’Young and Justin Turner.

“He looks like a fighter. I love that in a halfback.”

Australian teams are allowed to recruit two foreign marquee players but it is now unlikely that the Force will use the option for the 2009 season.

“We won’t add anyone to the squad unless we find the right people,” Mitchell said.

“There’s not a lot around in the marketplace at the moment. We are still looking, but the person is going to have to be the right fit.”

Mitchell says that the Force will still continue to play an up-tempo, attacking style of rugby.

“I’ll still advocate a very positive game of football,” Mitchell said. “We will still have a huge emphasis on width.

“There will be an emphasis on gaining momentum. Those sort of things don’t change.

“As a developing team we have certainly learnt how to compete, but we are going to have to earn the respect of the competition by being consistent and beating the bigger guns when it matters.

“The other thing is we weren’t satisfied with what we had to endure last year off the field. The boys are looking at establishing the right behaviours for success.”

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