Wallaby gets chance to prove his critics wrong
MUCH-maligned Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps has the chance to prove his critics wrong when he gets a start in tonight's series decider against Ireland in Sydney.
It may seem strange a man who has played 63 Tests still faces questions about his worth to the national team, but Phipps remains a constant target for cranky social media critics.
But the 29-year-old's value is not questioned by those who really matter - his teammates and coaches - and he is a popular leader with both the Wallabies and Waratahs.
His gutsy tackle on Ireland winger Keith Earls in the second Test loss was one example of his competitiveness, fitness and ability - and it certainly wasn't lost on opposition coach Joe Schmidt.
"Nick Phipps' tackle on Keith Earls was an absolute try- saver," Schmidt said.
"It's a Nick Phipps special, really. He works so hard in behind the line, he's a very good cover defender and he did a great job."
It's those fighting qualities that have made the newly married Phipps a regular in the gold jersey since first being picked by Robbie Deans to tour in 2010. The durable No.9 has been selected in every squad since by Test coaches Ewen McKenzie and Michael Cheika.
In that time, however, Phipps has always had to play second fiddle to the great Will Genia, whose consistency and game management has been preferred.
Only when Genia has been injured or unavailable has Phipps been handed a Test start - he's come off the bench on 35 occasions.
He's also been forced to juggle game time with Jake Gordon in Super Rugby.
- Christy Doran