Wallaby coach Robbie Deans was at his best when he skillfully sidestepped the vexed Matt Giteau issue.
Speaking to the media, ahead of Saturday's opening Tri-Nations Test against South Africa in Sydney, said the veteran utility back still has a role to play with the national team - despite being axed from the matchday 22 this week.
“Well Gits [Giteau] is part of the [Tri-Nations] squad, so he has a big part to play," Deans told a media scrum.
"We prepare as one and next week's another week.
“You can look at anyone and make assumptions, but, like I've said many times, we're presuming nothing going forward.
“Matt will obviously want a role going forward, he has a role going forward, we just don't know what that will entail just yet in terms of playing.”
The 92-Test veteran is the major casualty from last Sunday's embarrassing 23-32 loss to Samoa after Deans wielded the axe.
While most of the seven changes to the starting line-up were expected, given that Deans rested several of his Reds stars last week, Giteau's omission from the 22-man squad is a surprise.
Brumbies utility Pat McCabe has been retained at inside centre and is joined by star halfbacks Will Genia and Quade Cooper, while fullback Kurtley Beale and wing James O'Connor also return to bolster the backline.
Quizzed on his decision to axe Giteau, Deans, who has opted for a five-two split of forwards and backs on the bench, said the ability of both Beale and O'Connor to cover the playmaking role meant the veteran's services were not required.
“We've got good versatility in our backline, we believe we've got what we need there so we've opted to carry a little bit more up front,” Deans said.
“We've obviously gone for a combination that we think will be good for us and we believe we have the capability within the existing group to cover all of those potential permutations around 10 and 12.”
Deans said McCabe did well against Samoa and had the potential to be a regular Test centre.
"He's well suited to the midfield. He's played most of the football on the edge, whether it be wing or fullback," Deans said.
"He's got speed and he's also got size and he's a good decision maker."
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