Wallabies need to find a way to nullify All Blacks 'danger man'

Nick Phipps was happy with the spark the Wallabies bench provided last Saturday but admits the team needs to find a better way to the nullify the threat of All Blacks "danger man" Aaron Smith.

Smith, whose infamous "toilet tryst" reared its head again last week after allegations surfaced that he lied to All Blacks officials about what actually happened, had a stellar game in Sydney.

The halfback's service to five-eighth Beauden Barrett was exceptional and he played a hand in a number of New Zealand's tries, putting to bed speculation the off-field dramas would affect his performance in the cauldron of a Bledisloe Cup opener.

Coach Steve Hansen was impressed with his game as was Phipps, who spoke about the threat Smith posed heading into Saturday's match in Dunedin.

"He had a cracking game after obviously having a tough week," Phipps told Fairfax Media. "He's so professional, he's able to rise above that and have a great game.

"He's always going to be that danger man we have to worry about around that zone. The way he links with Beauden ... they controlled the game really well in that first 50 to 60 minutes. They're world-class players for a reason. We've got to do a bit better trying to nullify him."

Phipps, who did not feature in the June Tests because of an ankle injury, felt a little rusty in his comeback game and said it was tough to watch the All Blacks pile on the points before he came on just after half-time.

He said there was a lot to like from the Wallabies bench, which boasted 350 caps.

"It's tough to sit there for a while and watch some of that happening," Phipps said. "I know my role. I come off the bench and try and provide that energy and try and get the boys up. It was my first big crack of footy in a fair while, it was good to be out there again.

"A few of us who got on there wanted to try and make an impact. It was a point in the game where it was make or break for us and if we didn't go one way, then it would have been a lot worse than what it was. Our finishers are so important to the group.

"At the back-end of the game we started to get a little bit of momentum but the damage was already done by that stage."

From a forward's perspective, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau believes simple errors made by the Wallabies can be easily fixed.

"After doing the review, it's errors that we made, not necessarily what they forced upon us," Polota-Nau said. "Little errors we made in the first half ??? it's easily rectifiable. It's a matter of getting the concentration sorted from the get-go. If you give them a sniff, they take it and they make the most of it."

Coach Michael Cheika will name his match-day 23 on Thursday and Polota-Nau is a chance to replace starting hooker Stephen Moore.

"Steve and I are well-seasoned to fight for that top spot as always," Polota-Nau said. "Whoever gets the job, they have the job to start the game and go really hard and that leaves the finisher to finish the job.

"I thought Steve had a good game to be honest. There's definitely room for improvement from my end as well."

The story Wallabies need to find a way to nullify All Blacks 'danger man' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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