Returned Wallaby rushed straight into team could be foil to French
Despite being a late arrival into the Wallabies camp after hotel quarantine, Philip was rushed back into the starting side with coach Dave Rennie saying his freshly-gained knowledge would be an asset.
The 27-year-old, who was one of Australia’s most consistent performers through the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations series in 2020, will partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, while Brumbies rookie lock Darcy Swain is in line to make his test debut off the bench.
Rennie said that while he was impressed with veteran lock Sitaleki Timani, who spent eight seasons playing in France, he felt Philip could similarly contribute.
“We’ve got Matt Philip, who’s just come back from France and has that experience,” Rennie said upon naming his team.
Philip himself believed that he was a better player after his taste of northern hemisphere rugby and said he felt prepared for what the French would bring to the three-test series.
“It’s a different style of rugby, it’s a pretty brutal comp, very physical,” Philip told AAP.
“There’s some really big bodies over there that you don’t find as much in Super Rugby, which is quite different.”
“I think I will be able to bring a little bit back from what I learnt over there.”
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Philip admitted he didn’t expect to be deciphering any opposition line-out calls however.
“I told the boys I am bilingual but it’s a very tough language to learn – I tried my best but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent,” he said.
“He’s had a pretty solid season,” said Philip. “He’s a good player and he got some time in the Six Nations so I’m excited to get the chance to play against him.”
Melissa Woods – AAP
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