Exeter Chiefs’ Pat Phibbs, formerly a back up to the legendary Wallaby play-maker George Gregan, has emerged as the leading contender to fill Worcester’s scrum half void.
The 29-year-old signed a short term deal at Sandy Park after being released by Super 15 outfit Brumbies last June.
Phibbs spent six years and played 76 games for the Canberra-based outfit and received international honours with Australia’s ‘A’ and Sevens sides.
He was brought to the Premiership when Exeter’s Haydn Thomas picked up an early season injury and Junior Poluleuligaga was away at the Rugby World Cup.
However, the Samoan has returned and Thomas is fit again and with a host of injuries in the position Worcester’s need is greater than Exeter’s, which means Phibbs has risen to the top of Richard Hill’s list.
The Sydney-born player made his debut for the Chiefs in last weekend’s LV= Cup victory over Ospreys when he came on as a second half substitute for Kevin Barrett.
Hill’s short-list is also thought to contain two half-backs who have been on international duty in New Zealand.
Argentina’s Alfredo Lalanne is also known to be available and a player whose name has passed across Hill’s desk.
Although the 28-year-old made three replacement appearances for the Pumas, including in the quarter final defeat to the All Blacks, he has been little more than a fringe player at London Irish.
Indeed he has made just 12 Premiership appearances in his two seasons at the Madejski Stadium and has returned to find not only Paul Hodgson ahead of him but youngster Darren Allinson preferred to both.
Another option is Tonga’s Taniela Moa, a versatile play-maker who can operate at No. 9 or 10. The 26-year-old would be an outstanding signing having been Tonga’s first choice throughout the World Cup and playing superbly in the victory over France.
He also comes with good pedigree having spent four years at the Blues before moving to Chiefs for this season’s Super 15 where he made four appearances.
Worcester’s need seems to become more desperate by the day as the injury crisis worsens. Only rookie Ollie Frost can be considered anything like front line and even he has only one Premiership start to his name.
His back-up Joel Dudley joined the wounded ranks last week when he fractured his ankle training with Stourbridge.
That brought the total of unavailable scrum halves to three with Jonny Arr still hobbled by a knee problem and Shaun Perry out for six months with serious ligament damage.