Giteau pre-empts squad announcement by retiring

Events in Australia yesterday begged an immediate question: namely, does Matt Giteau have English ancestry? The Wallaby midfielder, widely considered one of the most gifted playmakers in the game over the course of a 92-cap career, made what amounted to a pre-emptive strike via Twitter, effectively announcing his retirement from Test rugby ahead of this morning's World Cup squad announcement by the national coach Robbie Deans.

While England have been scrabbling around for a midfield worthy of the name, there have been increasingly strong indications that Giteau will miss out on next month's global tournament across the Tasman. It takes some believing, but the 28-year-old Sydneysider appeared to confirm the rumours when he wrote: "Thank u ballboys, thank u linesmen. That's it. Really wanna thank everyone for the support. Was a huge honour to get the chance to represent my country as often as I did."

Another top-notch midfielder – one certain of his World Cup place – will be back on public view this weekend after a worrying spell on the sidelines. Brian O'Driscoll returns to the Ireland side, as outside centre and captain, for the warm-up game with France at Lansdowne Road.

Meanwhile, England's first opponents in the tournament, Argentina, have named something approaching a full-strength side for their game with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

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