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McKenzie backs new halves to click

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

GOLD COAST - Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie believes he's seen enough to be confident new halves pairing Nic White and Bernard Foley can find an instant understanding.

White and Foley were named on Tuesday as the starting scrum-half and fly half for Australia's first Test against France in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Brumbies No.9 has ousted Queensland Reds star Will Genia, who couldn't even get a spot on the bench, while Foley will make his first Test start after winning the race to replace injured playmaker Quade Cooper.

The selection represents somewhat of a gamble given the pair will be playing together for the first time and have just 14 caps between them, compared to more experienced options such as Genia and Kurtley Beale.

But McKenzie says the duo have been a part of the Wallabies setup long enough to have learned each other's games.

"It's not new because the guys have all been with us before," he said.

"Nick's started Tests already and Bernard's been around in terms of the training. You see us play on the weekend but that's only one fifth of what happens in the week. A lot of time is spent in combination working together.

"Everyone's got to come in and learn a little bit and adapt. The good players do that and I'm very pleased with what I've seen in a short space of time, obviously you need the pressure cooker of a Test match and we'll find out.

"It won't all be perfect, I can guarantee that, but the attitude and the willingness in training had been outstanding."

White's selection ahead of 55-Test veteran Genia was proof of McKenzie's new selection mantra where form has more weight than reputation.

The 23-year-old said getting the nod is a huge vote of support and one he intends to do his best to repay against the French.

"To know that the coach has said it's about consistency and form and that he's backed you on that, it's a bit of a confidence booster," White said.

"It's just about going out there on Saturday and repaying the faith a bit."


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