Phipps praises Wallaby pack
Wallabies scrum-half Nick Phipps praised his pack for giving him an excellent platform to play from in last weekend's victory over England at Twickenham.
Phipps believes a repeat of that physical performance and the expected return of flanker Scott Higginbotham is set to make his work even easier when Australia face Italy in Florence on Saturday.
The Wallabies' physical approach at Twickenham seemed to catch England by surprise and Phipps singled out number eight Wycliff Palu and returning lock Sitaleki Timani, who put in some big tackles, for special praise.
The match was in stark contrast to Australia's humiliating 33-6 defeat which they suffered against France the previous week - a game in which Phipps struggled to get his back-line flowing.
"We'd been getting bashed all week in the media and it was probably one of the most down weeks I've had as a Wallaby," he told AAP.
"But the way we played against England was unbelievable and it made my job a better one too.
"Cliffy and Sita were awesome, they put some huge hits on. It was incredible what they were doing out there.
"Michael Hooper hits really hard too and he was in everything.
"It was so good out there for me because there's nothing better than sitting behind a forward pack when they're belting team likes that and this week we could possibly get Scotty back too."
Phipps is hoping to build on the performance he delivered against England. After enduring heavy criticism for his showing against France he delivered an outstanding effort against England which included several sniping runs around the ruck.
He played a major role in the Wallabies' only try of the match in the 35th minute when after a devastating run he offloaded to wing Nick Cummins who scored.
"It was a pretty special moment to supply the Badger (Cummins) with his first try, he loved it and it was great for the team too," he said.
"All of us in the backline benefited from what the forwards did and it allowed me and Kurtley (Beale) to put in a performance the jersey deserved.
"I was also able to look around for some opportunities around the ruck and have a go myself, it was great."
Wallabies skipper Nathan Sharpe is excited to have Higginbotham back and is impressed with the shape that the new Melbourne Rebels recruit is in despite him missing the two previous matches due to suspension.
"It's exciting to have Scotty over here. All the guys are stoked to see him again," Sharpe said.
"He's just jumping off the plane and into the squad but he's only had a couple of weeks away from us but in that time he's trained hard.
"We know the way Scott prepares himself that he'll be ready to fire as soon as he hits the field."