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Livewire White's ready to walk a mile in Genia's boots to boost Wallabies

Into the hot seat: Nic White will start at halfback when the Wallabies face Argentina on Saturday night.

Into the hot seat: Nic White will start at halfback when the Wallabies face Argentina on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

New Wallabies halfback Nic White is confident he can literally step into Will Genia's boots and then keep the world's best No.9 out of Australia's starting XV.

Wallabies captain Genia was dumped from the Test team on Wednesday because he's ''not at the peak'' of his game and coach Ewen McKenzie wants a change. McKenzie said White's rise wasn't a rotation selection and he'd earned the right to take over from Genia.

White has played just 16 minutes in his three Tests and hasn't won a game, but he got an unexpected selection gift from Genia: two pairs of size 9½ boots. ''[Will's] not only offered me advice but given me two pairs of boots this week,'' White beamed. ''It just shows where Will and I are at. We're just friends at the end of the day.''

The feisty ACT Brumbies halfback's selection is the biggest shock in McKenzie's two-month tenure as Wallabies coach.

That's significant given the hype surrounding controversial star Quade Cooper and code-hopper Israel Folau. But given Genia's status as the world's leading No.9, being the interim captain and with the team trying to end a four-game losing streak, few saw the axing coming. The Wallabies have lost all three games under McKenzie. White's booming boot will add an extra dimension to the attack and his kicking game is regarded as one of the best in Australia.

White played in the biggest game of his career last month when the Brumbies lost the Super Rugby grand final. He played the final despite straining his groin in the pre-match warm-up. The injury has lingered until this week.

The 23-year-old didn't want the injury made public because he didn't want any excuses for his sub-par performance in the Brumbies' defeat in the final. He will get his chance for big-game redemption as the Wallabies chase an elusive win against Argentina in Perth on Saturday night. White feared he had missed his Test opportunity last season when shoulder surgery ruined his chances of taking over from Genia when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

''Ewen hasn't given me the jersey to go out and have a little run around,'' White said. ''I have to make sure I'm well prepared. I'm extremely excited.''

McKenzie resisted going with an all-Brumbies combination of White, Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano in the chief playmaking positions. Instead, Toomua will stay on the bench with Cooper keeping the five-eighth duties.

''[White's] got one of the best kicking games I've ever seen and people will assume we've picked him because of his kicking game,'' McKenzie said. ''But he's actually got a very good running game … You have to have an environment where you've got competition for spots or you won't get the best out of everyone.''

35 comments so far

  • See this is exactly what the doc ordered . Fresh , new , enthusiastic , smart , heart and most of all pride and a new winning mentality .
    In the states when wallabies play in other countries they use the local sides announcers . It looks like the wallabies coach is hearing what they are screaming , especially the NZ commentators they said if the players aren't winning try out new blood , because after awhile the loosing players loose there heart . And this is exactly where our beloved wallabies pack are . Go u good things go !

    Commenter
    Los Cambos USA
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 4:04AM
    • Disagree with Cooper in the run on side. We need a thinker at #10 and Cooper aint it.

      Pull the trigger Link. Let's see what an all Brumbies 9, 10, 12 combination can do at test level.

      Commenter
      Yank
      Location
      USA
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 5:37AM
      • Spot on .QC is a liability at test level .They should have gone with the Brumbies combination .

        Commenter
        Willow
        Location
        MONA VALE
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 11:28AM
      • Agreed x10. All this talk of establishing combinations and yet the the clear winning brumbies combination is now lost because of a questionable Cooper.
        Why link, why?

        Commenter
        Mattty
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 6:44PM
      • Well we've just seen what they can to at test level.

        Nuthn' much. (apart from nearly blow it against Argentina)

        Commenter
        Ruckin Oaf
        Date and time
        September 14, 2013, 9:55PM
    • Don't accept the Crab boots son, play your own game

      Commenter
      Goforward
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 5:39AM
      • Same old story, Nothing interesting of this current Wallabie. (aka whipping boys)

        Commenter
        Not a Wallaby fan anymore
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 7:34AM
        • Not a fan? no need to read about them or comment on articles

          Commenter
          Hunters
          Date and time
          September 14, 2013, 7:54AM
      • Great to see White get his just rewards and an indictment of the way the Queanbeyan Whites rugby club develop their young stars.

        Commenter
        Big Roach
        Location
        London
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 7:37AM
        • Great to see Nic White get a go. We sure as hell don't need to develop another Chris Whittaker. Deans was determined to run Genia in to the ground to help the AIG's. McKenzie is obviously a lot smarter.

          This must surely be Deans favourite Ben Alexander's last chance. He has been completely useless for goodness knows how many years and if he doesn't perform this week but still gets picked, then we will know the ARU is not really interested in developing Australian rugby and is only interested in looking after favorites, no matter how much psychological damage Alexander's refusal or inability to get his hips down at scrum time does to the Wallabies.

          The same goes for the obviously inept former Deans assistant coaches Andrew Blades (scrum) and Nick Scrivener (defence). It's clear as day they are incapable of adopting to McKenzie's more expansive higher skill level game plan compared to their mate Deans, or are deliberately trying to undermine McKenzie, who was prepared to give them a go despite their loyalty to a foreigner coaching the Wallabies.

          It will be interesting for all Wallaby supporters to watch Michael Hooper really really closely this week to see if he is in the thick of the rucks stealing ball or slowing the opposition ball down by competing, or whether he is just hanging round the fringes looking for an opportunity to shine. He started off really well in the first half of the first test against the All Blacks but has reverted to his normal style. That is one of the other primary reasons the wallabies are going so poorly but it is too difficult politically for McKenzie to drop him just yet. There are other ways to skin a cat.

          Commenter
          johnny-boy
          Date and time
          September 12, 2013, 7:50AM

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          Super Rugby 2015

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