Paris ambush still haunts Wallabies
November 11, 2014
Nick Phipps is enjoying an extended run in the Wallabies' No.9 jersey © Getty Images

The Wallabies are drawing on memories of their nightmare in Paris two years ago in a bid to avoid another French ambush this weekend.

Australia will enter Saturday's (Sunday morning AEDT) Test match at Stade de France as firm favourites following a convincing 3-0 series win over France on home soil in June. However the tourists are bracing for a much-improved French outfit and Australia's last visit to Paris - a shock 33-6 defeat in their opening match of the 2012 spring tour - remains fresh in their minds.

Halfback Nick Phipps was a relative newcomer to the starting side back then and recalls being "absolutely ambushed" as on a slippery, muddy pitch in front of a parochial 65,000-strong crowd as France ended a seven-year drought against Australia.

"I thought we had a really good week in training but on the night I don't think we expected the intensity and the ferocity of their players," Phipps told AAP. "They just absolutely blunted us. It was really hard to play with the ball and we didn't end up having it much, so we ended up defending a lot."

The Wallabies rebounded from the loss to win the remaining three Tests of the tour and Phipps says the performance still serves as motivation two years on.

"It was a bad day at the office. It's not a night I remember too fondly but that's been communicated across the group as well," the NSW Waratahs playmaker said. "We'll be expecting that sort of attitude from them this time and a lot of the boys are better for coming through that."

France made a stack of personnel changes for their 40-15 win over Fiji on Saturday, the first match since their hat-trick of losses in Australia. Phipps said the Wallabies had to expect to face a "completely different side". "They're a phenomenal team and on their day, they're the best team in world and can dust absolutely anyone," Phipps said.

Meanwhile, Phipps is keeping his focus on the team despite admitting to feeling selection pressure created by the return of veteran Will Genia. The Queensland Reds playmaker impressed off the bench in the 33-28 win over Wales to apply some pressure to reclaim the No.9 jersey.

"I'm never going to worry about people coming up behind me, because if I do I'm taking my focus off the team," Phipps said. "I want to do whatever I can to make sure Australia are winning games and if I'm doing that, hopefully I'll be able to keep my spot."


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