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Matt Philip's Rugby World Cup hopes receive a boost

By AAP
(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Matt Philip’s hopes of playing in this year’s Rugby World Cup have received a boost, with the Wallabies lock named for his first Super Rugby Pacific match of the season.

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Philip will start for the Melbourne Rebels in their must-win match against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

However, in a blow for the Rebels, in-form playmaker Carter Gordon will miss the crucial clash with a knee issue.

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Philip hasn’t played since suffering a serious knee injury during Wallabies training last October, with the 29-year-old relegating Trevor Hosea to the bench.

The lock’s inclusion is one of four changes to last week’s starting XV, with Stacey Ili and Lukas Ripley combining at centre, while Reece Hodge replaces Gordon at 10.

Hodge, 28, will become the most-capped player in club history when he plays his 98th Super Rugby match.

He has scored 547 points over eight seasons, and has represented the Wallabies 62 times.

The Rebels have won three of the past four Super meetings between the two sides and will be returning to Dunedin for the first time since 2020’s thrilling 28-22 win over the Highlanders.

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Both teams are locked on 15 points, three points outside the top eight, with three games to play.

Melbourne Rebels: Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Sam Talakai, Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Brad Wilkin (c), Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Reece Hodge, Monty Ioane, Stacey Ili, Lukas Ripley, Lachlan Anderson, Andrew Kellaway. Res: Jordan Uelese, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Pone Fa’amausili, Trevor Hosea, Tamati Ioane, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste, Joe Pincus.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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