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SYDNEY (AFP) – Former skipper Will Genia was left on the bench as the Wallabies scraped home 14-13 over Argentina in the Rugby Championship, with coach Ewen McKenzie pleased Sunday with his replacement's performance.
ACT Brumbies scrum-half Nic White was impressive in his starting debut as the Wallabies broke their four-match losing run against the Pumas Saturday to move off the bottom of the four-nation standings.
White's kicking for touch was crucial in the wet and windy conditions in Perth, while his composure under pressure also earned high praise.
New Wallabies coach McKenzie was so pleased with White's performance that he didn't even feel the need to call upon Genia's services from the replacements bench.
The Wallabies have a week off before taking on South Africa in Cape Town on September 28, and McKenzie said he faces a tough decision over whether to start White or Genia against the Springboks.
White is intent on keeping the number nine jersey and he made a strong case to back up his claims.
"The big stage didn't slow him down. He didn't go into his shell," McKenzie said.
"Nic would have one of the strongest kicking games in the country. He has a strong running game too.
"I don't think we have to be embarrassed about having two international-standard halfbacks. I think it's a great thing for Australian rugby.
"You want to have selection headaches. If you haven't got anything to think about at the selection table, it would be disappointing. You want pressure."
White said he was nervous before the match but he enjoyed the experience of his first full international.
He hopes Saturday's showing is just the start of bigger and better things to come.
"I thought it was going to be tough to get that jersey off Will. He's had his hands on that jersey for a long time now," White said.
"I knew that if this opportunity came, it wouldn't come very often. I had to make the most of it."
Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who is now an adviser with Argentina, said a return to form for Genia would prove crucial to Australia's chances of once again matching it with New Zealand.
"I thought he was the best halfback (scrum-half) in the world a year ago," Henry said.
"When I was coaching the All Blacks he was the real worry for us.
"We used to spend quite a bit of time practising defence against Genia and (Quade) Cooper-type players, because they were the major threat.
"That threat isn't there as it used to be. So something's going on. And maybe this is the way to reignite him.
"He'll come again, because he's too good a player not to."