Youngs preparing for familiar foe

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

England halfback Ben Youngs says they will look to target Australia’s halves, expecting Nick Phipps to return to the Wallabies’ starting team at Twickenham.

Will Genia has started the past three Tests for the Wallabies but his club, Stade Francais, has initially refused to release him for the final Test.

The Wallabies haven’t given up hope of a change of heart but Youngs anticipates it will be Phipps who wears the nine on Saturday.

Phipps started in every Test against England in June and both he and flyhalf Bernard Foley were targeted heavily by the visitors in a series whitewash.

Youngs said the NSW scrumhalf would be a counterpart he was more accustomed to should Genia not be available to play this weekend.

“Phipps played in all three in the summer so I know him pretty well, the boys know him pretty well,” he said.

“Obviously studied him before even the summer, looking when he played at the Waratahs and look at all his clips, leading up to the summer.

“If Will isn't released then we know Phipps pretty well from the summer. If Will ends up coming back, a great player in terms of [an] operator, in terms of what he does in his running game, so each are an equal threat. - Ben Youngs

“I think [it’s] likely to be Phipps and his combination with Foley's pretty good in terms of playing club rugby together all the time so he's certainly a guy we'll be aware of and a guy we'll be trying to put under pressure.”

The Wallabies’ attack has grown since the June series, looking at its best on the Spring Tour against Wales but also potent against Ireland, though it fell short at the final pass a handful of times in Dublin.

Youngs said Australia’s commitment to keeping the ball alive was an exciting prospect in both attack and defence for England.

“I think with Australians, they're one of the best terms of how they attack and they're really smart in terms of - they'll do two, three set plays then they hit midfield and they might do something to try and isolate one defender in the third phase but I think with that they play a huge amount of ball in play,’ he said.

“They try and play expansive rugby. With that, often you get turnovers or you get the ball and it allows you to play that unstructured game which is the type of game that I enjoy.

“So, you're basically going to have at the weekend, two attacking teams really go at it, which will give you big ball in play,give you unstructured games, which allows myself and george and owen to really try and put them under pressure with attack as well.”

While they are prepared for the Wallabies’ attack. The Leicester scrumhalf said England had become a better team since June as well.

“I believed we've layered on another level of our attack, I think at the weekend in the first 10 minutes or after [Elliot Daly} went off, we were looking to cause some trouble,” he said.

“We looked flat, we looked fast, we looked like we were on top of them, we had those guys turning in and the ball was going out the back and then when they were drifting we were hitting short.

“I thought our manipulation in terms of manipulating their defence was very good and as I said we had to adapt pretty quickly after El went off, so tactics changed slightly."

“I feel at the weekend will be another step forward in our attack and I do feel we're a lot better side than we were in the summer and I'm sure they do [think] the same.”

Australia takes on England on Sunday, kicking off at 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on SBS and beIn Sport 3 (Foxtel Channel 515).