Wallabies to get some inside info on Les Bleus
SPOTLIGHT: The Wallabies will look to tap into the recent France experience of lock Matt Philip when they host Les Bleus at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
Philip missed the entire Super Rugby season in 2021, completing a six-month contract with French Top 14 side Pau.
Despite being a late arrival into Wallabies camp after hotel quarantine, Philip was rushed back into the starting side with coach Dave Rennie saying his 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 for his Test debut off the bench.
Rennie said while he was impressed with veteran lock Sitaleki Timani, who spent the 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 said he was a better player after his taste of Northern Hemisphere rugby and he felt prepared for what the French would bring in 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.”
Philip admitted he didn’t expect to be deciphering any opposition line-out calls.
“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.
Three of his teammates from Pau are in the French travelling party with only lock Baptiste Pesenti included in the squad for the first Test.
“He’s had a pretty solid season,” said Philip.
“He’s a good player and he got some time in the Six Nations.
“I’m excited to get the chance to play against him.”