News Article

Wallabies coach backs Phipps

Printable Version Printable Version    Recommend Recommend    Email to a friend Email to a friend

By AAP .

Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans believes rookie halfback Nick Phipps is ready for South Africa, and Australia is now ready for him.

Phipps will start his second Test against the Springboks in The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash at Loftus Versfeld, again replacing injured regular Will Genia in the line-up.

The 23-year-old is expecting to be a bundle of nerves before his first Test at the famed high veldt cauldron, which he hopes goes better than his only other match there - a 50-7 hiding with the Melbourne Rebels.

But his coach has full faith in his ability to steer the Australian side after his debut Test start against Argentina, saying Phipps, who made a late break that set up the match-winning try, was integral in their 23-19 win.

"At the far end of the game he was the point of difference," Deans said.

"The break that put Digby (Ioane) away was a very, very good first up effort.

"He has grown as a player - no doubt.

"Things didn't go perfectly for him but his response was perfect and you can't ask for anything more than that."

Deans said Phipps' clearance of the ball and speed around the ground was "remarkable" and at times caught short his scrambling teammates.

"On occasions because the delivery was so quick we weren't always ready for it."

Ahead of his sixth Test cap Phipps, whose grandfather and great uncle, both called Jim, played for the Wallabies, believes he still had plenty to work on.

"I'm the first to say it wasn't that good," he said of his first start.

"There was very little things I did do well and a few things that I need to improve on so I'm looking forward to that.

"I'm one of those guys who's always nervous before a game, I don't think I'll ever be comfortable but we've put in a lot of work this week ... we're completely across what we're going to do and how we're going to do it and where to exploit them so it will be good."

Meanwhile, a decision will be made on injured backrower Scott Higginbotham after their captain's run on Friday.

The unlucky Queenslander who was set to come off the bench, injured his back when skipper Nathan Sharpe landed on him during a training drill.

Two years ago Higginbotham was shattered when he was forced to pull out of his planned Test debut in Pretoria after he suffered back spasms in the warm-up.