Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps is putting his Bledisloe Cup shocker behind him and wants to go from a passenger at the last World Cup to being in the driver’s seat at this year’s tournament.
Phipps established himself as the starting No.9 in the second half of the Rugby Championship last year and also started two of the first three Tests in 2015, before producing an uncharacteristically error-strewn performance against the All Blacks in Sydney this month.
He lost the run-on spot to Nic White, who was the Wallabies match-winner off the bench in that game and didn’t play in the return clash in Auckland the following week.
However, Phipps was named in the World Cup squad along with Will Genia, the first-choice No.9 in the 2011 tournament, with White left out.
Phipps says he hasn’t dwelt on his difficult night in the Sydney Bledisloe game.
“Every now and then you have a night like that so you move on,” he said.
He was a peripheral member of the 2011 World Cup squad, having played his first two Tests just a couple of months beforehand.
His only appearance in the tournament was in a pool game against Russia, where he came off the bench and played in the unfamiliar role of winger.
“A dominant winger … no touches, no tackles,” Phipps quipped.
Now he sees a chance to play a far more prominent role in the upcoming World Cup, where he could potentially direct the Wallabies around the field if chosen as the starting halfback.
“I’m really excited at this World Cup, looking forward there’s a lot of opportunities for me personally,” Phipps said.
“The last World Cup, I was a bit of a passenger there for the majority of the tournament, but that’s just the luck of the draw.
“We lost a lot of wingers there. We had (back rower) Radike (Samo) playing on the wing (against Russia), so that’s just how the game goes.”
Although Genia and him are the only specialist halfbacks in the squad, Phipps acknowledged there might be games where only one of them was named in the 23, with the possibility Matt Giteau could be the backup half if coach Michael Cheika opted to have only two backs on his bench.
“I’m sure ‘Gitty’ will be warming up his passing and working to cover that second half(back) role,” Phipps said.