Phipps' hard work yields half-century

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Nick Phipps is all about the team.

The Wallabies reserve scrumhalf is likely to tick off his 50th Test match on Saturday, named on the bench for the 23rd time in that tally.

Finishing has become a regular role for the Waratahs half, competing with Will Genia for the starting halfback spot, but his spot in the pecking order does not seem to preoccupy him, though that's not to say he's not competitive.

The 27-year-old started in the Wallabies’ 32-8 win over Wales, but asked after the game what would become of him with Genia’s impending return from France, he was adamant a win was worth more than any positional battle.

“To be honest, I just want the team to win,” he said.

“We’re quite lucky we’re getting an opportunity at a Grand Slam, which is so huge and it’s not lost on the players.

“I don’t care if I’m out of the team, as long as the team wins. - Nick Phipps

“Willy coming back, he’s a great player. If he comes back and plays some good footy I’ll be happy, and I think all the boys will be as well.”

Phipps’ route into the Wallabies came via the Australian Sevens, breaking through for his Test debut against Samoa in 2011, with his longest starting run coming in 2014.

His tale is a far cry from the other Wallaby set to hit his 50th Test on Saturday - Israel Folau - and it’s one that has been overshadowed somewhat externally, but within the team it will surely be lauded just as much.

Nick Phipps after his debut against Samoa. Photo: Getty ImagesWallabies flyhalf, and Phipps’ roommate, Bernard Foley is especially pleased to see Phipps reach his milestone, having been privy to the toils along the way.

“He's probably the first to say that he's not the most naturally talented bloke but it's just an absolute honour for him to reach 50 caps,” he said.

“He's a guy who's worked every little inch, he's done every extra possible and it's a fitting reward for a guy of that nature, he’s never been given anything or handed anything easily.

“He's always had to work for it so it's a truly remarkable effort for a bloke like Nick and it's so thoroughly deserved.” - Bernard Foley

Foley said Phipps’ contribution to the Wallabies went far beyond his own individual determination

“His ability to pick the mood, to get the squad up [is important] but also he's tireless in his work effort on and off the field,” he said.

“He does a lot of extras off the field to ensure the squad's keeping, moving along quite well but also on the field, he's always the guy you know will back you up, he'll have your back or he'll be the guy who supports you or chases down someone. 

Nick Phipps has narrowed his focus. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyHe's a guy who never dies wondering and he's great to play alongside.”

When Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was asked about Phipps and Folau’s looming milestones on Thursday, his stance was similar to the scrumhalf’s in Cardiff on Saturday.

“I think it’s a nice achievement for the lads, and you’ve got to pay respect to that, 50 Tests for your country is a great effort,” he said.

“But at the end of the day I think they’d give a lot of those Tests away to get a win on Saturday.”