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Wallabies look to Nick Phipps to fill Genia's boots after 'king hit' incident

The Waratahs scrum-half is set to join his club-mate Bernard Foley in the halfbacks.

Murray Kinsella reports from Sydney

MICHAEL CHEIKA SUGGESTED it was a “king hit” but, in truth, there wasn’t much in it.

When the Wallabies coach used this term to describe the moment Will Genia broke his arm against Ireland in Melbourne last weekend, we had to check with our Australian colleagues what it actually meant.

Cheap shot, blind shot, blindsided – just a few of the translations.

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Looking back at the footage, then, we half-expected to see Cian Healy hammering Genia with an off-the-ball hit but the incident wasn’t quite at that scale, simply the kind of contact that regularly takes place on rugby pitches as players look to follow the ball.

A penalty for the Wallabies, sure, but even a yellow card might have seemed harsh.

It is a major shame that Genia won’t take any part in the series decider in Sydney this weekend, however.

Having underlined the Wallabies’ unhappiness with the so-called “king hit” on Genia, Cheika did at least underline that it was not a reason for his side’s second Test defeat.

“I’d rather look at ourselves,” said Chieka. “No excuses, mate.

“We gave away too many penalties, the things we could control we didn’t control and that led to losing. We were playing against a very good team and that led to losing.”

Instead, Cheika was looking at how the Wallabies had been loose in possession and discipline, giving up 15 penalties.

“We need to trust our system a bit better,” said Cheika. “We went for some 50-50s, gave away some soft penalties, gave away too many penalties, full stop.

“We gave away some 50-50s and we shouldn’t have that doubt, we should just believe in ourselves. That’ll be a big work-on for next week, not work-on; we’ll just ground ourselves and say ‘let’s just do what we do’ and the rest will turn out right.

Will Genia The loss of Genia could be telling. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“When we do do it it is pretty good, whether it’s on defence or attack.”

The loss of Genia could be a key one, with the Melbourne Rebels scrum-half such an influence on the team through his game management and calming leadership.

Nick Phipps, who replaced Genia in the second Test, is set to come into the starting team, while the relatively inexperienced Joe Powell is expected to be on the bench.

Phipps had some fine moments against Ireland in Melbourne, including one superb cover tackle on Keith Earls in the second half, but Genia’s absence does look like a blow for the Wallabies.

The positive is that Phipps plays his club rugby alongside Wallabies out-half Bernard Foley at the Waratahs.

“I’ve known Nick for a long time now,” said Foley. “I’m looking forward to it. I know he’s excited for an opportunity now. I have a lot of faith in Nick and what he brings.

“I’ve played with him for many years now and it’s going to be a shame that Will’s out – for how long I’m not sure – but it gives Nick an opportunity and it gives a guy like Joe Powell, who has been in and around the squad, an opportunity and the good thing about this squad is that when guys get an opportunity they take that.”

Foley does feel there are differences in style between Genia and Phipps, which Joe Schmidt will no doubt be highlighting to his Ireland players this week.

RUGBY AUSTRALIA IRELAND Genia made a superb tackle on Keith Earls last weekend. Source: AAP/PA Images

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

“Nick’s just a hard worker. He works tirelessly for the entire 80 minutes and I’m sure the speed of ball will be remarkably quick and he will keep barking to the forwards to keep them in line.

“There will be small adjustments but nothing too significant that will change the way we’re going to play. We still back these guys as quality players to come in and fill that role.”

The Wallabies have called Waratahs scrum-half Jake Gordon into their extended squad to replace Genia, who had surgery yesterday and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

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Murray Kinsella

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