JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Wallabies' plan of blooding halfbacks gets George Gregan's blessing

Elusive customer: Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps gives his teammates the slip at Wallabies training in Melbourne.

Elusive customer: Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps gives his teammates the slip at Wallabies training in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images

Test great George Gregan says Will Genia's high-profile Wallabies demotion is in the best interests of Australia heading into next year's World Cup.

Just as Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said his side would "shut down" the three-Test series against France in Melbourne on Saturday, Gregan said Ewen McKenzie was making a smart strategic decision to attempt to do so without Australia's most-experienced halfback. 

"I think he's looking at using this as a chance to give [Nic] White and [Nick] Phipps the Test-match experience they need at this point," Gregan said. "They know what Will can do when he's at his peak, but they are probably looking at the longer game."

Will Genia  and Israel Folau get together at a Wallabies training session.

Will Genia and Israel Folau get together at a Wallabies training session. Photo: Getty Images

White will oppose experienced French halfback Morgan Parra, who started at five-eighth in France's World Cup final loss to New Zealand in 2011 and made an impressive 10-minute contribution against the Wallabies last week.

Gregan said the overhauled French side, turned inside out for the second Test with 10 changes to the starting line-up this week, would give the Wallabies a run for their money at Etihad Stadium.

"This team would be closer to the strongest French team for the tour," he said. "Having [captain] Thierry Dusautoir back in there with [Damien] Chouly and Yannick Nyanga will mean a very impressive back row, and Parra will add a bit of balance in the halves with his experience. They will bank on that experience lifting them against Australia."

While White was roundly praised for his performance in the Wallabies' 50-23 rout of France in Brisbane last week, many questioned whether Genia's form slump was serious enough to leave him of out the squad in favour of Phipps.

It has been a spectacular fall from favour for the 55-Test halfback, considered by many to be the world's best, even at just below peak form. The Queenslander was benched by McKenzie last year but never dropped entirely. His demotion during this series is the first time since 2010 that Genia has been left out of the squad while fit and available. But with just 17 Test matches left before the World Cup in Britain next year, Gregan said McKenzie was right to give White and Phipps crucial game time.

"It's a while away, but it's smart to have three halfbacks getting Test experience a year out from the World Cup," he said. "We saw that in [the 2011 Cup]. You can go with young players but you need experience. Winning a World Cup is about having those sorts of players with game time under their belt, having that youth and energy but having the experience everywhere, even on your bench."

The Wallabies took Genia, Luke Burgess and Nick Phipps to New Zealand in 2011. Genia and Burgess had 58 caps between them, but Phipps had just two, one of them a starting role against Samoa, under his belt. Three years later, Phipps has played 15 Tests and White, who made his debut last year, has played 11. Genia, meanwhile, reached his half-century last year and is expected to make a return to the starting line-up at some point during the Rugby Championship. 

Meanwhile, Hooper used his first captain's media opportunity to say the Wallabies wanted to go to Sydney next week with the series stitched up and six wins in a row under their belts. 

"You're not going to put seven tries on the board every weekend ... we're just trying to find the ability to win and win consistently," he said. "We've got five now in a row and we're looking at six. We're starting to build something nice and it would be nice to shut this series down"

George Gregan is an HSBC ambassador. HSBC is proud to partner with the Wallabies. 

3 comments so far

  • The irony...

    Date and time
    June 14, 2014, 7:57AM
    • Indeed duly noted

      Ruckin Oaf
      Date and time
      June 14, 2014, 10:23AM
  • I like it how Link has picked based on form instead of previous coaches picking out of form big names.
    Pity about some of the current injuries but what a fantastic reserves pool / bench to fill the gaps.
    Any of them could be starters.
    Definitely coming into a new golden patch for Oz rugby!

    Jonny Thunder
    Date and time
    June 14, 2014, 10:06AM

    Make a comment

    You are logged in as [Logout]

    All information entered below may be published.

    Error: Please enter your screen name.

    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Please enter your comment.

    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

    Post to

    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

    Thank you

    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

    HuffPost Australia

    Rugby World Cup 2015

    Round 1
    Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
    ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
    TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
    IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
    Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
    SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
    FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
    SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
    WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
    Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
    NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
    Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
    SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
    Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
    AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
    FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
    Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
    NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
    Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
    ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
    ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
    Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
    SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
    ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
    AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
    SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
    Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
    IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
    Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
    TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
    Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
    WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
    FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
    NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
    SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
    Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
    SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
    ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
    Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
    ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
    IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
    Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
    CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
    FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
    Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
    SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
    NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
    Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
    NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
    Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
    SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
    AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
    ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
    ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
    Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
    ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
    FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
    USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
    SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
    NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
    IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
    Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
    AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
    Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
    SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
    Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
    ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
    Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
    SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
    Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
    NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Rugby World Cup 2015
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
    Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
    England 4 2 2 0 58 11
    Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
    Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
    View all
    Rugby World Cup 2015
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
    Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
    Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
    Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
    USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
    View all
    Rugby World Cup 2015
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
    Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
    Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
    Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
    Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
    View all
    Rugby World Cup 2015
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
    France 4 3 1 0 57 14
    Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
    Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
    Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
    View all

    Follow Us on Facebook

    Featured advertisers