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Returning Wallaby 'desperate' to push for World Cup honours

By Finn Morton
Matt Philip of the Wallabies (center) reacts to a non try during the international Test match between the Australia Wallabies and France at Suncorp Stadium on July 07, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

The Wallabies were preparing to fly out to France ahead of their end-of-season tour last year when disaster struck for one of their star forwards.

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Melbourne Rebels lock Matt Philip, who has played 27-Test matches in Wallaby gold, was sidelined with a significant knee injury after an incident at training.

With the Rugby World Cup about one year away, it was a cruel blow for both the second-rower and the Wallabies – a team who were trying to find their identity after a tough Rugby Championship.

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But after months of “hard work” and “pretty dark” times, Philip is back.

“The day we were going on last year’s Spring Tour, unfortunately, I had that knee incident. It’s been a tough seven months or something now,” Philip told reporters on Thursday.

“A lot of hard work and I’m feeling really confident in my body now.

“I’ve got to put that nostalgia a little bit behind  me and do and do a job this weekend, I can’t dwell on it too much. I’m stoked to be back involved.”

As confirmed by the Wallabies on Thursday morning, Philip has been named on the bench for the Wallabies’ first Test on Australian soil in 2023 against Los Pumas.

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Philip has shown incredible resilience and passion throughout his journey back to the Wallabies, but an opportunity to represent Australia on the biggest stage in rugby awaits.

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With a World Cup just around the corner, the 29-year-old is “desperate” to rewrite his own history by being on the plane to France this time around.

“I’m desperate to be back in that World Cup squad, like everyone,” Philip added.

“First thing’s first, this weekend is (about) getting a win against Argentina, that’s all I can focus on.

“I’m experienced enough… I feel ready to go, I can lean on that experience, it’s not my first Test match. I’ll be using past lessons to prepare myself for this game.”

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The Wallabies are just a couple of days away from a crucial challenge against Michael Cheika’s Argentina side on Saturday evening.

Australia began their new era under coach Eddie Jones with a disastrous defeat to South Africa in Pretoria last weekend – they’ll be eager to bounce back in front of their home fans.

With the World Cup less than two months away, they have to.

During a press conference on Thursday morning, coach Eddie Jones spoke about the “Wallaby way.” It’s the style of play that the Australians are trying to identify with before flying to France.

Philip said that while the players know what that looks like, they’re still trying to figure out how that works for them across the next few Tests.

“We’re trying to go back to that Australian brand of running rugby, which is really exciting for us because that’s what we grew up watching, it’s a little bit of how they used to play back in the early 2000s.

“We do know what it looks like but it’s also learning how to do that on the run.”

The Wallabies take on Argentina at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium at 7.45 pm AEST on Saturday evening.

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