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'Competition so interesting': Ex-Wallaby Phipps on England No9 call

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Former Wallabies scrum-half Nick Phipps has spoken enviously about the range of choice at No9 available to England due to how much larger the Premiership set-up is compared to the Australian clubs. Eddie Jones has got 13 clubs to keep an eye on – beginning with Leicester and Ben Youngs – compared to the Aussies having just five teams and London Irish player Phipps believes a greater depth in quality clearly exists in England. 

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The 32-year-old earned the last of his 72 Wallabies caps prior to the 2019 World Cup and he has since been enjoying the stiff competition he has faced on a weekly basis in the Premiership following his signing by London Irish.

It leaves him well placed to cast his eye over the options available to Jones who has included three scrum-halves in his squad for next month’s matches versus Tonga, Australia and South Africa. For quite a considerable time the 32-year-old Youngs, who has made 109 England appearances, has been the first-choice selection. 

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However, there are now some new kids on the block applying pressure, namely 23-year-old Harry Randall, who started both summer series matches versus the USA and Canada, and 20-year-old Raffi Quirke, who spent his summer helping his country win an age-grade Six Nations Grand Slam in Cardiff. 

What now awaits in the coming weeks regarding Youngs and co with England will be intriguing and ex-Wallabies scrum-half Phipps gave his view on the matter during an appearance on this week’s The Rugby Pod with Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode.  

“Those young boys are good. Raffi and Randall are very good players. Every time I have played them they have been absolute livewires. Whether they are ready for a starting spot in England who really knows. You don’t really know until you get that chance against some southern hemisphere teams. Obviously Ben is the best nine option they have got but do they blood those boys off the bench through that way into some really big Test matches? I don’t really know. There are so many young boys coming through and God, I forget his name from Saints, the nine there (Alex Mitchell). That is the difference between here and Australia. 

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“You have got 13 unbelievable nines playing every week whereas in Australia we have got five teams so and out of those five teams, one or two will be just the out and out the best. That competition for spots over here is so interesting to watch and the thing is you could pick one, two or even three really good England teams, it’s just about the combinations that Eddie wants.”

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