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Phipps hoping for more Wallaby physicality
By Russell Jackson
20:10 AEST Tue Nov 20 2012

Nick Phipps was the beneficiary of a physical Wallabies forward pack at Twickenham and the mooted return of Scott Higginbotham is set to make the halfback's job even easier in Florence.

Higginbotham, who joined the squad last weekend, is available for the Test against Italy on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) after serving a two-game ban for twice striking All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

The aggressive blindside flanker's possible inclusion against the Italians will add some punch to an already fearsome Wallabies pack which showed what they are capable of against England.

Returning lock Sitaleki Timani and No.8 Wycliff Palu produced several bone-jarring hits and nobody was more pleased to see that than Phipps.

The match was in stark contrast to the week before when the Wallabies were belted 33-6 by France, with Phipps spending most of the night going backwards.

"We'd been getting bashed all week in the media and it was probably one of the most down weeks I've had as a Wallaby," Phipps said.

"But the way we played against England was unbelievable and it made my job a better one too.

"Cliffy and Sita were awesome, they put some huge hits on. It was incredible what they were doing out there.

"Michael Hooper hits really hard too and he was in everything.

"It was so good out there for me because there's nothing better than sitting behind a forward pack when they're belting team likes that and this week we could possibly get Scotty back too."

Captain Nathan Sharpe said Higginbotham is in great shape and ready to hit the ground running in Florence.

"It's exciting to have Scotty over here. All the guys are stoked to see him again," Sharpe said.

"He's just jumping off the plane and into the squad but he's only had a couple of weeks away from us but in that time he's trained hard.

"We know the way Scott prepares himself that he'll be ready to fire as soon as he hits the field."

While he didn't condone Higginbotham's actions against McCaw, Sharpe does love the way the Melbourne Rebels recruit plays the game.

"It was good to see what it meant to him to play for your country," he said.

"You never want to see anyone go to that length or get a suspension but the intent was to assert his physical presence on the field and that was a good thing."

Phipps is hoping that forward physicality will give him and his backline another platform to work off against Italy, who were beaten 42-10 by the All Blacks last weekend.

The No.9 answered his critics with an outstanding performance which included several sniping runs around the ruck.

He set-up the Wallabies' only try of the match in the 35th minute when he broke the England line before finding Nick Cummins to score a near 55-metre effort.

"It was a pretty special moment to supply the Badger (Cummins) with his first try, he loved it and it was great for the team too," he said.

"All of us in the backline benefited from what the forwards did and it allowed me and Kurtley (Beale) to put in a performance the jersey deserved.

"I was also able to look around for some opportunities around the ruck and have a go myself, it was great."


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