Departing Brumbies coach Tony Rea has revealed the public perception that Matt Giteau is "grumpy" and "hard to get on with" is broadly accurate - but says that is what makes the volatile playmaker so good.
Rea singled out Giteau for special praise following Saturday's embarrassing 41-7 loss to the Waratahs and commended the 28-year-old's leadership throughout a tumultuous season for the Canberra club.
"I know Australian rugby's got this impression that he's a grumpy fella that's hard to get on with," the straight-shooting Rea said.
"Well, I've coached him now for 14 weeks, and he is that, but in all the right ways.
"He tests you, he challenges you, he pushes you and all that and he's difficult at times because he wants to win and he keeps trying to compete.
"And if the public don't like the look of that stuff then they're reading him wrong."
Giteau, who will link up with French glamour club Toulon after this year's World Cup, insists he is not bothered by his lack of popularity in some sections of the rugby community.
"I am who I am and as long as I've got the respect of my team-mates and my family and obviously my wife and friends, that's all I really care about," Giteau said.
"Obviously people you don't know are going to judge you rightly or wrongly and there's nothing you can do about it.
"If I worry about that sort of stuff I'll end up not enjoying myself and not playing rugby because I want to play rugby and not doing the things that give me that enjoyment out of rugby."