Phipps harnessing June series lessons

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A brutal June series handed Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps the biggest learning curve of his career and he wants to make the most of those lessons on Saturday.

Phipps started each Test in June and was heavily targeted by the English, a tactic they hinted they would be employing again, but the scrumhalf said he would be ready for it.

“It's probably the biggest block of learning that I've had in my career, the amount of different things, the amount of things I learned on the run,” he said.

Nick Phipps is confident in Australia's attack. Photo: Getty Images“Not only on the field but also around the mental side of the game was something that was a great work on for me and it's really helped me now to be able to develop into a better player and that'll help me through the stages of my career now,” he said.

Phipps’ most recent start came against Wales at the start of Australia’s Spring Tour, before WIll Genia returned to the squad for Tests against Scotland, France and Ireland, and the 27-year-old said he drew plenty of confidence from that Cardiff start.

"I guess sitting out for a while you do really start to appreciate the finer things, the amount of time you get and making sure that every opportunity you get, you want to do well and do a lot better to show the coaches and not only them but the rest of the players in the group that you're performing well and you're doing your bit for the team," he said.

While revenge is in the back of Australia’s’ minds, Phipps said the desire to finish the 2016 journey with a win at Twickenham overrode the vengeance factor. 

“That's something [finishing with a win] that's been talked about – more so from a perspective as [captain] Stephen Moore's been saying, this is the last time the 2016 team will play together," he said.

“You often gloss over that, you don't really realise that at the time unless it's raised. This is the last time that we'll be able to perform together on the field and it's important for us. - Nick Phipps

“We've had some ups and downs this season, certainly had a few low periods and we've also performed really well at times but finishing off the year as well as we possibly can is something that's very important to us, not only to reward the players and all of that but more so the fans that have stuck by us and certainly the staff and the coaching group that we have behind us.

“They've done so much work for us this year and we want to make sure we're finishing off on a high note and constantly improving each game since that series through the middle of the year.”

Ben Youngs says England has added a new level. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland halfback Ben Youngs has been pivotal for the side on its 13-Test winning streak and Phipps said he was well aware of the threats of his opposite number.

“He's a guy I really like to watch play rugby, he's quite exciting, he's always looking for opportunities himself,” he said.

“He works with his forwards quite well and his speed of service is really, really good.

“My brief encounters off the field with him as well, he's been a really great bloke and more importantly on the field he's a fierce competitor, which I love.

“I love coming up against him and this weekend, we obviously understand that he's a real strike player for them.

“He's always looking for opportunities around the ruck, the amount of linebreaks he's been making around the ruck area is always putting them on the front foot and then his composure around his kicking game as well. We're going to have a lot of work to do this weekend to make sure we're staying on top of him and conversely, all across the field they've got strike  players everywhere.”

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