Exciting young RaboDirect Rebels’ scrum-half Nick Phipps is poised to make his Wallabies debut following his selection on the bench for the Wallabies next tour match against the powerful English club the Leicester Tigers.
Phipps is proudly the Melbourne Rebels’ first Wallaby tourist and is set to become the first Rebel to take to the field in the famous green and gold jersey of Australia. The 21-year-old has already represented Australia at Rugby Sevens and will be the understudy to NSW Waratah scrum-half Luke Burgess for the match.
The Wallabies proved far too strong for Wales on the weekend and will be keen to keep their unbeaten tour record intact. The Tigers are the reigning English premiership champions and Welford Road is one of the toughest places to play at in English Rugby.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans recognises this and flyhalf Berrick Barnes will captain the Qantas Wallabies who is one of nine players selected who were involved in the Wallabies’ 25-16 win over Wales.
Indeed, the selected match squad will feature all seven members of the Wallabies’ bench from the match in Cardiff – Barnes, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Huia Edmonds, Dean Mumm, James Slipper and Lachie Turner. Test hooker Saia Faingaa and inside centre Matt Giteau have also been included in Tuesday night’s match after starting for the Wallabies against the Dragons.
The midweek fixture will provide six members of the touring party with their Qantas Wallabies debuts. Winger Rod Davies, flanker Scott Higginbotham, 34-year-old lock Van Humphries and outside centre Pat McCabe have all been selected in the run-on side, while back-rower Pat McCutcheon and scrumhalf Nick Phipps, the lone representative from Australia’s newest Super Rugby province, the Melbourne Rebels, have been named on the bench.
The match is the next step in Phipps’ senior rugby career and his Rebels teammates will be looking on with interest from Melbourne. Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans says the midweek tour matches are an integral tool in preparing young players for Test football.
“If you look at last year, a number of players emerged out of the midweek fixtures,” he said. “Kurtley Beale played his first game at fullback and Quade Cooper played flyhalf and have both since established themselves in the Test side. Salesi Ma’afu had his first outing for the Wallabies and went on to make his Test debut.
“These matches are critical, to be honest. It provides rugby for the whole group which is invaluable and keeps the entire squad connected. What it offers us is access for everyone. Without it we go from Test to Test which doesn’t permit us to provide an opportunity for the next tier of player.
“In terms of the aspirational pathway, it’s an essential element. Sometimes until you provide an opportunity, you don’t know how players will respond and over the past two years we’ve seen significant response from the players who’ve had that opportunity.”
The announcement of today’s line-up means that all 36 players in the Qantas Wallabies touring party will have received match involvement at the conclusion of the first three matches of the seven-match Spring tour.
Leicester currently sits fifth in the 12-team English Premiership, with three wins and four losses from their seven matches, including their most recent 19-12 loss to third-placed Gloucester at Kingsholm last weekend. The Tigers have an impressive recent record against international sides after defeating the Springboks, 22-17, at Welford Road in November, 2009.
Qantas Wallabies v Leicester Tigers
Tuesday, 9 November, 2010
Welford Road, Leicester
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (RSA)
15. Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds)
14. Rod Davies (Queensland Reds)
13. Pat McCabe (Brumbies)
12. Anthony Faingaa (Queensland Reds)
11. Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs)
10. Berrick Barnes (c) (NSW Waratahs)
9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
8. Richard Brown (Western Force)
7. Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
6. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
4. Van Humphries (Queensland Reds)
3. Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies)
2. Huia Edmonds (Brumbies)
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
16. Saia Faingaa (Queensland Reds)
17. Ben Daley (Queensland Reds)
18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
19. Pat McCutcheon (NSW Waratahs)
20. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
21. Matt Giteau (Brumbies)
22. Luke Morahan (Queensland Reds)