Phipps set for first 2018 start

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Nick Phipps will play starting nine for the first time this season, as the Waratahs look to upset the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Phipps has had a frustrating year, with a calf injury delaying his start to the season and dealing with an off-field controversy in recent weeks, but the Wallabies backup showed spark when he came off the bench against the Blues.

With just a month left until the Wallabies' opening June Series Test against Ireland, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he wanted to give Phipps the chance to push his case for that and show his quality for the Waratahs.

 "I decided a couple of games ago I'm going to rotate my two halfbacks (Phipps and Jake Gordon) through this New Zealand period, to give them both an opportunity to get the best out of both of them for those games," he said.

"Both are really pressing for national honours and (I) want to give both those opportunities.

"Nick's such a competitor and I thin the chances he's been given, he comes on, you can see the speed at which he wants to play the game," he said.

"Also, looking at those fixtures and trying to match both their skill sets to their game.s I want to give both the opportunity to be at their best and put a performance in for the Waratahs but also In mind for higher honours.

Jake Gordon in action in the opening 2018 trial. Photo: Getty ImagesThe 29-year-old's start means Jake Gordon is on the bench, after starting every game so far this season.

Curtis Rona has also been elevated into the starting team, with Lalakai Foketi pushed onto the pine.

Rookie prop Shambeckler Vui will have his second opportunity of the season, coming off the bench ahead of Paddy Ryan.

The Waratahs travel to Christchurch on Thursday night, ahead of Saturday's clash with the Crusaders, looking to snap Australia's 38-game losing streak against Kiwi Super Rugby side.s

"I believe we're more competitive and we're right there in terms of breaking through and becoming that team," he said.

"All year, we've bemoaned the fact around our ball control and we continue to lead the stats with turnovers and against a team who are very good at breakdown.

"So, a lot of our improvement areas is around that, making sure that because we want to play positive rugby, we can make errors and trying to reduce errors."

NSW takes on the Crusaders on Saturday night, kicking off at 5:15pm local, 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

TEAM

IN: Shambeckler Vui

OUT: Paddy Ryan

Waratahs to face the Crusaders

1. Tom Robertson

2. Damien Fitzpatrick

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Ned Hanigan

5. Rob Simmons

6. Will Miller

7. Michael Hooper

8. Michael Wells

9. Nick Phipps

10. Bernard Foley

11. Taqele Naiyaravoro

12. Kurtley Beale

13. Curtis Rona

14. Cam Clark

15. Israel Folau

Reserves

16. Hugh Roach

17. Harry Johnson-Holmes

18. Shambeckler Vui

19. Tom Staniforth

20. Jed Holloway

21. Jake Gordon

22. Lalakai Foketi

23. Bryce Hegarty

Crusaders to face the Waratahs

1. Joe Moody

2. Codie Taylor

3. Michael Alaalatoa

4. Scott Barrett

5. Sam Whitelock

6. Pete Samu

7. Matt Todd

8. Jordan Taufua

9. Bryn Hall

10. Richie Mounga

11. Manasa Mataele

12. Tim Bateman

13. Jack Goodhue

14. Seta Tamanivalu

15. George Bridge

Reserves

16. Andrew Makalio

17. Wyatt Crockett

18. Donald Brighouse

19. Mitchell Dunsheo

20. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis

 21. Mitchell Drummond

22. Mitchell Hunt

23. Braydon Ennor