Western Force fly-half Matt Giteau ended months of speculation on Saturday when he revealed he had signed with the ACT Brumbies for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
His decision to leave Perth at the end of the season is a major blow for the Force, who are still picking up the pieces from last year’s player and staff revolt against Mitchell.
Giteau (who wears Adidas Predator power swerve Boots) started his career with the Brumbies and notched 40 caps for the club before being lured to Perth on a three-year deal, believed to be worth around A$4.5 million (US$2.91 million) a season.
But Giteau, who along with New Zealand’s Dan Carter is considered one of the premier players in world rugby, was left about a million dollars out of pocket when his third-party deal with Firepower collapsed last year.
The Force were unsuccessful in their attempts to extend Giteau’s deal until the end of 2011, despite the willingness of several WA businesses to pull together a lucrative third-party sponsorship deal to replace that of Firepower’s.
“If it was about money I would have stayed here (in Perth),” Giteau said on Saturday.
“Obviously there’s been promises made that weren’t kept because of certain things so I feel proud of myself I honoured my contract, saw out my three years here.
“And the fact I was looking to renegotiate it at some point to stay on longer shows how much I do like Perth and enjoy it.
“In the end it came down to a simple desire to return to Canberra.
“(My relationship with Mitchell is) fine.
“I’ve never had an issue with Mitch, it’s been good.”
Giteau, a 65-Test veteran with the Wallabies, threatened to walk out on the Force at the end of last season but couldn’t get out of the final year of his contract.
Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan said the club was thrilled with Giteau’s decision to return to Canberra.
“We made no secret about our desire to see him back in Brumbies colours,” Fagan said.
Giteau has been a revelation both on and off the field since his high-profile arrival at the Force in 2007.
Giteau said he had no regrets about coming to Perth despite Firepower’s demise.
“From my point of view there’s no bitter taste because I’ve always enjoyed my time here in Perth,”.