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O'Connor tips success for Phipps

Nick Phipps ... tipped for the top.

Nick Phipps ... tipped for the top. Photo: Getty Images

JAMES O'CONNOR has backed Melbourne teammate Nick Phipps to ''excel'' at halfback after the loss of Wallabies linchpin Will Genia.

Phipps was chosen in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup more than a year ago but has warmed the bench ever since, while Australia grew more dependent on Genia's excellence.

But the Sydney-raised Rebel's time has come after news Genia would miss the rest of the year with a knee injury incurred during the Wallabies win against the Springboks in Perth.

O'Connor, who joined Wallabies camp on the Gold Coast and hopes to be ready to tour in two weeks, believes his teammate is ready to face the challenge.

''I think he's going to handle it quite well, he's played two years of Super Rugby, he's been involved with the Wallabies for two to three years now, so he does have experience behind him and he has been around Willy for a while now,'' O'Connor said.

''His style of play will definitely suit [five-eighth Quade Cooper] anyway, he's got a good pass and he's not afraid to take the line on.''

Genia's loss is the latest blow to the Wallabies, who were only just coming to terms with injuries to new captain David Pocock and his predecessor James Horwill.

''It's always tough losing a member of your team, especially since Willy's our captain and one of our core players in the team. But I think Nick's going to step up, he's a very physical sort of guy, he throws his weight around well,'' O'Connor said.

''And I think against a team like the Pumas, who are going to be tough up front, you need a character like that who's going to go in hard.''

O'Connor said the Pumas' performance against New Zealand at the weekend showed they could not be written off outside Argentina.

But he laughed at comments after the 21-5 defeat that the Pumas tried to stall the ball at the ruck.

''New Zealand can't really point fingers there, they're the biggest culprits in world rugby at slowing down the footy, so maybe they just got a taste of their own medicine,'' O'Connor said. ''It's no secret that we like to play front-foot ball, that we like to play rugby … but you adapt to what's happening on the field and if they want to slow the ball down then let's hope the ref picks that up, but there's also ways to counter that.''

O'Connor's mooted return against South Africa in Pretoria at the end of the month cannot come soon enough for the Wallabies and the 22-year-old himself, who endured serious injuries to his liver and hamstring this year.

But characteristically upbeat, O'Connor found positives in his extended lay-off. ''I'm not going to lie it has been really frustrating but at the same time it's been refreshing, I've never had a pre-season before and being able to have a good 15 weeks to train and get my body to a place it's never been before,'' he said.

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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