Phipps enjoying Foley partnership
Australia scrum-half Nick Phipps believes six years grafting from the ground up with Bernard Foley has set the Wallabies' new half-back partnership alight.
Phipps and Foley are only now, both at 25, establishing themselves as a genuine Test-class duo, after years spent scrapping for professional contracts.
Overlooked for Super Rugby deals straight out of school, Phipps and Foley met at Sydney University, vented shared frustrations - and set about plotting a joint course to the top.
Australia Sevens duty and Waratahs contracts later, the firm friends were catapulted into Test duty: now they even dislodge much-vaunted Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
Fast forward to Twickenham on Saturday, and the Wallabies' frontline half-backs might just cut a more settled dash than England's muddled midfield.
"I've been quite lucky to play with Bernard for the last six years all through uni, the Sevens and the Waratahs as well," said Phipps, whose grandfather and great uncle both played for the Wallabies.
"I've really enjoyed that time with Bernie there, so I know pretty well when and where he wants the ball.
"We spend quite a lot of time off the field speaking about what he wants, how to read the game and the numbers on either side of the ruck.
"We're ironing out exactly how we deliver the right technical aspects of the game now, to try to feed the game or to play the game out.
"With a World Cup approaching that's what we've got to have totally sorted: you can't make those kinds of mistakes in a quarter or semi-final."
Phipps and Foley are fast forging a deadly counter-attacking combination, but the duo were ably assisted to that end by inside centre Matt Toomua in Australia's 26-23 defeat to Ireland in Dublin last weekend.
The trio were at the heart of every Wallabies raid, Phipps crossing twice and Foley claiming a score of his own.
England's unsettled midfield could not be more at odds this weekend, with boss Stuart Lancaster jettisoning scrum-half Danny Care and playmaker Owen Farrell.
Bath's talented but green fly-half George Ford partners Ben Youngs at half-back, with Gloucester captain Billy Twelvetrees recalled at 12 after a period of exile.
Australia will doubtless aim to splinter England's inside-back cordon, seeking to latch onto any potential indecision or lack of cohesion.
Phipps will once again draw on his long-hewn rapport with Foley, admitting the duo have grafted their way to the top.
"We weren't the most talented, but once we got that taste we loved it and worked hard," said Phipps, ahead of the England-Australia clash screened exclusively live on Sky Sports.
"We started playing club footie together back in 2008, at Sydney Uni, we played two years of club together, then we played two years of Sevens together.
"We both lived out west in Sydney, so we trained pretty much together every day, and that really bonded us together into being the close mates that we are today.
"Drive definitely brought us through: neither of us made any of the Super Rugby teams when we left school.
"We didn't have many chances then, so when you do get the opportunities, you don't let them go.
"When the chances came, we just worked and worked to make sure when we got to Sevens camps and things, we were ready to go.
"Then we just never looked back, kept working hard and kept that work ethic all the way through to now, where we are today."
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