Cheika backs Phipps against All Blacks
THE increasingly controversial Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps is likely to get the nod to start against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday as coach Michael Cheika calls on his team to play the rugby of their lives to upset the odds.
Phipps was given an official warning by Rugby Championship organisers Sanzaar for pushing an Argentina physio to the ground in last weekend's Test against the Pumas at Twickenham.
He also made headlines the last time the Wallabies played the All Blacks in Wellington when he threw Malakai Fekitoa's loose boot high into the crowd.
The two acts of poor sportsmanship probably won't make him as unpopular with New Zealand crowds as teammate Quade Cooper, but he is heading in the right direction.
Phipps is likely to wear the No.9 jersey in the absence of Will Genia, who has been told by his club Stade Francais to return to France.
The Bledisloe Cup test, a dead rubber following the All Blacks' two convincing wins over Australia this year, falls outside the international window.
"As much as I would like to have him, no complaints from my end,” Cheika told reporters.
"They're totally within their rights to ask him to go back.”
Cheika added: "I think it's a chance for Nick Phipps to get up and get in there and get stuck in. Genia's been really good. I think he's been in some of the best form that he's had in an Australian jersey.”
"He's been really instrumental for the team as a whole, one of the senior players that we still have in the team.
"But, like I said, it's a great opportunity for Nick Phipps to get back out there and stake a claim for the jersey.
"You're going to have to play the best football of your life to get a result there,” Cheika added.
"That's what we would have been doing if the trophy was in play.
"It's not about the internal issues or the external motivation or the external pressure, it's about being ready to play the best footy you can.”