Australian rugby:
Wallabies hardened by tough season
ESPN Staff
June 3, 2013
The Melbourne Rebels' Nick Phipps fires out a pass, Perth, Australia, April 2, 2013
Rebels scrum-half Nic Phipps enjoys the physicality of a tough rugby contest © Getty Images

Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Nic Phipps believes that the rigours of playing tough local derbies in this year's Super Rugby competition will help steel the Wallabies for the upcoming Test series against the British & Irish Lions.

Phipps, who was brought into Robbie Deans' squad after Richard Kingi was ruled out with a knee injury, told the Sydney Morning Herald that both sides face the challenge of quickly uniting players that have been fierce opponents throughout the year to date.

''They are a bit like us here when we play our local derbies. When they play each other over there they are really brutal affairs,'' Phipps said after Wallabies training at Sydney's St Joseph's College on Monday. ''They will have to get over that sort of psyche where they just want to go out and beat each other up quite early. They all have to chip in, get ready and commit to one cause. This year the local derbies [in Australia] have been a lot more physical, brutal encounters.

''There has been a lot of malice out there … boys really wanting to get out, play for their state and pretty much beat each other up to get the win. That's been good. We are only better for that. We know they [the Lions] are going to be absolutely brutal in all their games.''

Those rigours were evident at Wallabies training on Monday, with five players not taking part in the morning session. Injured Queensland Reds winger Digby Ioane, Western Force winger Nick Cummins, Waratahs back-rower Wycliff Palu, Reds prop James Slipper and Waratahs back-rower Dave Dennis all sat out the morning session.

Phipps, who will deputise for incumbent scrum-half Will Genia, believes he would revel in the physicality of the Lions series should he receive an opportunity.

''If I didn't like physicality I would be playing soccer or AFL I think … I do love it,'' he said. ''I love the feeling [that] if there is a hole, or if there is someone making a break, I am ready to cut that down and fill a hole. When some of the blokes see the littlest bloke on the field put a shot on, they lift their game as well.''

The Lions touch down in Western Australia
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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