He came off the worse last time but Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps says he relishes his looming clash with All Blacks livewire Aaron Smith.
The two halfbacks will battle it out again in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship decider at ANZ Stadium which doubles as the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests.
“He’s always good to play against. We always find each other on the field and I really enjoy playing against Aaron,” Phipps said on Wednesday.
“He’s such a good a good competitor and he always lifts my game.”
Phipps knows better than most how lethal Smith is, having been on the end of a masterclass from the classy little New Zealander in the Highlanders’ Super Rugby semi-final win over the NSW Waratahs in June.
“They dusted us off well and truly and he had a great game as well. He was instrumental in that and if he brings that sort of form to the All Blacks,” Phipps said.
“He’s going to be great around the field, he’s a livewire and a lot spark from the team comes through him.
“We’re going to have to put a lot of work around our ruck defence and watching him very carefully.”
Whatever happens against the All Blacks, Phipps said coach Michael Cheika would ensure a big focus was on the Wallabies being physical whenever possible.
“We want to make sure that no matter what the score is or what the result is, we want to bring that Aussie spirit to the game … that’s not taking a backward step and leading in the physicality stakes,” he said.
“We want to put in those efforts that stops the momentum of teams.
“We are going to be trying to bring that physicality as any team under Cheik will be.
“Once we have that physicality and that never give up attitude, the body-on-the-line stuff for your teammates, then you can start to fine tune things.”