NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson believes his Wallabies counterpart Michael Cheika will look closely at switching Israel Folau to outside centre and move Test rookie Dane Haylett-Petty to fullback.
Recently moved by Gibson from fullback, Folau produced another sizzling effort in the No.13 jersey in the Waratahs 57-12 win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.
A few hours later in Bloemfontein, Force fullback Haylett-Petty carved up the Cheetahs, scoring two tries and running 209 metres in his team’s 30-29 loss.
Haylett-Petty played on the wing in all three Tests of the June series against England and was singled out for praise by Cheika.
The Wallabies coach was happy to keep Folau at the back in that series, but has the option of changing things for the Rugby Championship starting in August.
Folau’s continued good form and penetration at outside centre and Haylett-Petty’s impact from fullback could put pressure on incumbent Test 13 Tevita Kuridrani, who struggled to make inroads against England.
“Certainly that’s a combination (Folau at 13 and Haylett-Petty at 15) I’m sure he (Cheika) is looking at closely,” Gibson said.
“I think a lot of that will depend on the form of the other players in those positions, obviously Kuridrani (and Reds outside centre) Samu Kerevi.
“You want your best players on the field in the right combinations.”
Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps struggled in the series against England and Gibson said he had told his No.9 to go back to his strengths.
“You can’t fault his effort and commitment, it’s outstanding,” Gibson said.
“He’s very determined to show what he can do in terms of getting back to playing the way he wants to play.”
Asked about Phipps’s strengths Gibson said “his fitness is outstanding and through that his ability to get to the ball very quickly.
“And when he does, use that ability to speed a game up.
“When he comes on or he’s playing well, the speed of the game is the key.”