Wallabies lock Matt Philip believes his experience will serve as a valuable asset for his young side in the lead up to next month’s Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand.
After making his international debut against Japan in 2017, Philip will be looking to add to his three career games in the green and gold, following an impressive Super Rugby AU campaign with the Melbourne Rebels.
Having played over fifty Super Rugby games since his last appearance for the Wallabies, Philip believes he’ll be better prepared for a National call up this time around, should he win the opportunity.
“Last time I played with the Wallabies was in 2017 and I had only played a handful of Super games – I think I’ve played over sixty now, so in that regard I’ve got a lot more experience,” said Philip.
“I think I’ve only just grown into my body – I’m carrying the weight around a lot better than I probably used to and I do feel a lot more confident to speak my mind especially around set pieces, line-out time and some of the ball carrying stuff as well.
“I feel like I can really add to the group in that area, whereas last time I played was 2017, I was pretty new to the whole Wallabies and Super Rugby environments, so I took a back seat and went for a ride there.”
The reigning Rebels Players’ Player has hit the ground running since joining the Wallabies, impressing new coach Dave Rennie with his set pieces and overall work rate – two areas of his game which will go a long way to determining whether the twenty-six-year-old will run out for the Wallabies in the First Test at Sky Stadium on October 11.
“I’ve had a lot of positive feedback around my set piece, scrum and line-out and also my ball carry as well.
“Throughout the Rebels I saw myself as a ball carrier for them and trying to get good go-forward ball, so there’s that aspect of my game as well, and also my work rate.
“Those three things – work rate off the ball, ball carry and set piece – that’s where I’ve been getting most of my good feedback on and that’s what I’m looking to bring at training, hopefully to get selected to play against the All Blacks.”
Joining Philip in the 44-man squad are fellow Melbourne forwards Trevor Hosea and Pone Fa'amausili, both of whom have already made strong impressions on their new teammates.
Philip says their selections have been well deserved and demonstrates the positive impact the Victorian Pathway program has made on local talent throughout the State.
“It’s been unreal, firstly from a Melbourne point of view, seeing some Melbourne junior locals come through and make it this far so early in their careers, it’s unreal for the club.
“It just shows that as a Melbourne Rebels player, the program that we’ve put together there is starting to work and we’re starting to make some really good leaps and bounds.
“Pone and Trevor have been unreal – it’s only been four days, but they’ve been really good.
“Their biggest strength is their athletic ability – Pone is so big, and Trevor is so tall, and I think they’re showing that around the group.”
The Wallabies take on the New Zealand All Blacks in the 2020 Bledisloe Cup beginning on Sunday, October 11 in Wellington, NZ.