Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps have a long history. Picture: Luke Marsden
Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps have a long history. Picture: Luke Marsden

Old firm merge to snap streak of Wallabies futility

THE Wallabies will bank on a decade-long partnership between Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley to help snap a drought in series deciders stretching back even further when they meet Ireland in the third Test in Sydney.

Victory for the world No.2 Irish side in Melbourne squared the series at 1-all and has set up a showdown at a sold-out Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Foley said the blockbuster has a "Grand Final" feel but the Wallabies will have to shake off a poor record in deciders in recent years to get the silverware.

 

Australia haven't won a third game in a live series since they beat the British and Irish Lions in Sydney in 2001.

Since then they've played in three third-Test deciders - against South Africa in 2005, New Zealand in 2008 and the Lions again in 2013 - and all three ended in defeat.

All other series - including far too many Bledisloe Cups - have already been won or lost by the third game.

Confidence remains high in the Wallabies camp despite the loss in Melbourne, and there was some good news on the injury front with enforcer Adam Coleman being cleared of a facial fracture. He will still have to pass concussion tests later in the week to play.

Adam Coleman is almost in the clear pending a concussion clearance. Picture: AAP
Adam Coleman is almost in the clear pending a concussion clearance. Picture: AAP

The absence of Will Genia in the third Test is certain, though, with the halfback undergoing surgery on Sunday for a broken arm.

Genia proved himself to be the maestro in a man of the match performance in the first Test and his loss as an on-field general will be huge for Australia in the third Test.

Back-ups don't come much more experienced than Phipps, with 63 caps, but he plays a very different style to Genia and, comparatively, has a much-reduced success rate.

In 80 starts at No.9, Genia has a 56 per cent winning record while Phipps, in his 28 starts in the same shirt, has only won 13 (46 per cent).

In combination with Foley, Genia has won 52 per cent of 25 Tests, while Phipps-Foley has only seen a 39 per cent success rate.

Will Genia is a massive loss for the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images
Will Genia is a massive loss for the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images

But one thing can be said about Phipps and Foley's combination - they're certainly not strangers.

The pair are best mates, having first played together for Sydney Uni colts in 2008, through the Aussie sevens team and then as flatmates since they joined together at the Waratahs. They won a Super Rugby comp together in 2014 and have won 65 per cent of games together in sky blue.

At Allianz Stadium it's even better, with a 71 per cent success rate.

"I definitely have a lot of faith in Nick and what he brings. I have played with him for many years now and it is going to be a shame that Will is out … but it gives Nick an opportunity. And gives a guy like Joe Powell an opportunity," Foley said.

Phipps plays less out of nine than Genia - preferring to use his relentless pace and fitness to clear the ball out. Foley conceded he would have to adjust a little but not massively.

"Will has a great understanding of the game and can control the game exceptionally well through his running and kicking and passing," Foley said.

"Nick is a hard worker. He is someone who works tirelessly for the 80 minutes, making sure the speed of ball is phenomenally quick and keeps barking and keeps the forwards in line.

There will be a small adjustment but nothing too significant that is going to change the way we are going to play. We back these guys as quality players to come in and fill that role."

NO HALF MEASURES

Wallabies halfbacks' success rate s

WILL GENIA (at No.9): 80 Tests, won 44 (56 per cent).

With Foley: 25 Tests, won 13 (52 per cent)

NICK PHIPPS (at No.9): 28 Tests, won 13 (46 per cent).

With Foley: 18 Tests, won 7 (39 per cent)

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