World Cup opener won't influence Wallabies selections

by staff

The Wallabies will watch Saturday morning’s England v Fiji match closely but it won't affect their selections as they prepare for their own World Cup to kick off.

Assistant coach Stephen Larkham said the side for their opener would be settled by the end of the day on Thursday London time, six days out from their game against Fiji.

Larkham said training this week had given the coaches a concrete idea of who they want to start in their pool matches.

“We had the Rugby Championship to have a look at a couple of combinations and then we had the game in America and we’ve had a couple of days of training since we’ve been here,” he said.

“We’ll make a decision this afternoon internally and then obviously announce it later on early next week.

Larkham said their selections wouldn't be influenced by what happens on Saturday morning, Australian time, between England and Fiji.

“No (it won't change selections) what we’ve been looking at is the combinations through training and I think that’s the key for us is making sure the combination’s right going into this first game,” he said.

One player who is unsure of his position in the pecking order is halfback Nick Phipps, who will be competing with his Queensland counterpart Will Genia for the starting nine spot.

The race for the halves jerseys is intriguing, with many believing that the starting combination needs to be the All-Reds pairing of Quade Cooper and Genia or NSW’s Phipps with flyhalf Bernard Foley.

That is the pattern selections took through the Rugby World Cup but Phipps said he did not yet know if he would be starting against Fiji.

“No I haven’t heard anything yet,” he said.

“It’s been pretty brutal in training and the fact the combinations are sort of mixing and matching people has given one any indication about what they’re thinking at the moment so it’s good like that."

Phipps said the competition for the spots was a helpful element for the side, whose bruising training sessions have been well-documented through their World Cup preparation.

“We’re all sort of rotating through combinations, giving us good opportunity to get to know each other and set us up and keep us on our toes.

“You can’t really read a gauge on any of the selections so you’re working hard constantly to make sure you’re pushing each other and pushing yourself to get better every day.”

Phipps admitted it was a tight contest between he and Genia, who for so long had a stranglehold on the halfback jersey.

“I want to keep building my game and with Willy here as well it’s quite a battle between us,” he said.

“I just hope I’ve done enough work this year and in the years before to put myself in the best position to play well in this tournament.

“Now it’s just up to putting that out on the training field and hopefully getting the nod from the big men up top.”