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Giteau plays down North-South divide

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allblacks.com     22 Oct 2015     Getty Images

For the first time in Rugby World Cup history there are no teams from the northern hemisphere competing in the semi-finals.

That has led some to suggest the standard of rugby union is superior in the south, with international teams in the north playing catch-up.

It could have been a different story, with South Africa needing a late Fourie du Preez try to see off Wales.

Australia then edged Scotland 35-34 thanks to a controversial late penalty awarded by referee Craig Joubert, a decision World Rugby later admitted should have been given as a scrum.

And Giteau says the gap in standards is not as great as some may think.

"I think the weather dictates a lot to do with the style. In the winter when the Six Nations is on, the ball's a bit more greasy and it's harder to shift," he said.

"That's probably why the game is played a bit tighter. But when the ball is dry, you see those games when they are able and capable and they're playing that fast brand.

"A bounce of the ball at the weekend and [the results] could have been totally different. There's not a massive difference at all between the teams."

The Toulon back is excited at the prospect of facing Argentina in the semi-finals, having thought he would not be playing in the competition at all 12 months ago.

The Australian Rugby Union altered the rules on selecting overseas stars to permit Giteau to be included, and he reflected on an emotional six months.

"No, I didn't [think I would be playing]," he said. "I thought I'd be doing a couple of speaking gigs to get a bit of cash. That was the plan but it's just been an amazing ride for me this last six months."

As for the threat of Argentina, he said: "Every World Cup, they're very good. Whatever they do, they always seem to peak in these tournaments.

"They're incredibly dangerous, you saw what they were able to do to Ireland and how far they pushed New Zealand in the first game."