Nic White set to start against Springboks
September 25, 2013
Nic White enjoyed a successful first start in the green and gold © Getty Images
Nic White does not accept that he is merely keeping the Wallabies' No.9 jumper warm until Will Genia regains form or the confidence of Ewen McKenzie, the Brumbies scrum-half saying after seven Tests, including one start, against Argentina in Perth, "I want to make [the jersey] mine as much as he wants to get it back".
White was selected ahead of Genia for The Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas at Patersons Stadium in Perth, and he justified McKenzie's confidence with a key 80-minute role as the Wallabies hung on to record their first win under McKenzie.
"My head space is that I want to prove to everyone that I'm certainly capable of holding on to this jersey and doing a good enough job for the team to get wins, which is what it's about," White told Fairfax Media of his immediate ambitions.
White was resigned to biding his time off the bench when Genia was considered the best No.9 in the world, and the Wallabies' only contender for a berth in a "World XV", but then he underwent shoulder surgery that ruled him out of contention when the Queenslander sustained a knee injury.
"I thought maybe I'd missed that opportunity last year," White told Fairfax.
But then McKenzie benched Genia after a series of below-par efforts for Australia, selecting White to make his first start against the Pumas.
"I thought this might be it - this might be my one and only opportunity to have a crack," White said. "That's just where I'm at at the moment. I've got to make the most of it because if I slip off, Will might take that jersey back and I might not get another opportunity to get it back."
White's fears appear unfounded, however, with McKenzie set to select the Brumbies scrum-half against South Africa because of his strong kicking game. White's inclusion against the Pumas was initially thought to be based around giving Genia a break, but McKenzie was impressed with his work in the wet and windy conditions in Perth.
"Any time you play against a South African side you have to be able to take them on in the kicking battle because that's a huge part of the way they play," Wallabies No.8 Ben Mowen said. "Particularly when Morne [Steyn] is at 10 ... that's been a huge part of their game so you've got to understand that it's coming and be able to take it on and challenge them in the same area."
Mowen believed the combination between White and five-eighth Quade Cooper would only get better in its second outing.
"That was the first opportunity to play together against Argentina and previous to that they'd had two or three training sessions," Mowen said. "You get a lot of confidence out of getting a win like that with your combination."
Mowen said Genia had been working hard, and the battle between the scrum-halves was a good problem for the Wallabies. "He's been really good," Mowen said. "He's a world-class player and when you've got guys like that who have time to go away and work on their game all they can do is improve. It's a great contest to have with those guys fighting for that jersey and that's what you want."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9