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Swapping halfbacks not necessarily a quick fix, says Wallaby White

Swapping halfbacks not necessarily a quick fix, says Wallaby White
Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Australia Captain's Run - Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Japan - September 20, 2019. Australia's Nic White in action. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files -
EDGAR SU(Reuters)
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By Nick Mulvenney

TOKYO (Reuters) – Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White says bringing Matt To’omua into Australia’s starting line-up at flyhalf may not be the quick fix it might appear.

Replacement To’omua’s running game sparked Australia’s second-half comeback against Wales in their Pool D loss last weekend and World Cup-winning fullback Matt Burke has suggested he should start for the rest of the campaign.

White, who started Australia’s opener against Fiji but was dropped in favour of Will Genia for the Wales game, said it was not as simple as that.

“Starting and finishing are two different roles,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“The beauty of sitting on the bench is you get to look at the game. Matty saw that flattening up and (that) playing on top of them with his hard running could potentially help the team and it did.

“He came on and really brought some direct play there. But … it’s just different for the finishers and we’re getting a lot of pay there.

“Whoever wears whatever jersey they can do the job starting or finishing through the whole team.”

Veteran Genia had returned to the starting side after coming on for White and steering Australia to a comeback win over Fiji. White played a similar role against Wales, adding sharpness to the attack when he came off the bench to replace Genia.

“In these conditions everyone gets pretty tired and you’re coming on with fresh legs so it’s exciting,” White said.

“It’s a different role but one that Willy had really good pay in the first week and obviously there was some tired bodies on the weekend and I came on.

“It’s a different role but one that either one of us can play.”

With only two scrumhalves in the squad, White and Genia are bound to be in the matchday 23 against Uruguay in Oita on Saturday but there are more options at flyhalf.

Bernard Foley, who has owned the number 10 shirt for the best part of five years, looked short of touch and confidence against Wales, while Christian Lealiifano took a battering when he started against Fiji.

Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor have both also started tests at flyhalf but Lealiifano, who still needs special recovery management after battling Leukemia, would be the most likely to come back in if Foley was dropped.

Whatever coach Michael Cheika decides when he names his team on Wednesday, White said the important thing was that Australia did not give their opponents a head start as they did in their first two matches.

“We know how we good we are, we’ve shown in the back half of games that if we can get that start right and not let teams get away on us, the potential is there,” he added.

“Our game’s looking really good but we’re just giving teams a leg-up early on. If we can sort that out, the feeling within the group is that we feel really good.”

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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