Howley: Phillips a good bet for 2015

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 20:37
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Wales assistant coach Rob Howley feels scrumhalf Mike Phillips stands a "realistic" chance of playing at the 2015 World Cup.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley on Thursday claimed that scrumhalf Mike Phillips stands a "realistic" chance of playing at the 2015 World Cup despite his recent sacking by Bayonne.

Phillips, 31, was formally dismissed by the French club this week for allegedly being inebriated when he turned up for a video analysis session three weeks ago.

The scrumhalf has launched legal proceedings against the Top 14 side, but in the meantime he is training with Wales ahead of their clash with South Africa at the Millennium Stadium on November 9.

He is currently without a club, but could be offered a central contract by the Welsh Rugby Union, and Howley believes Phillips can still look forward to a future in the international game.

"Looking forward over the next two years, we would like to think Mike Phillips will be available for World Cup 2015," Howley said.

"I think that is a realistic target for Mike, and for that to happen he needs to be playing at a club.

"There are always strengths and weaknesses of central contracts. The important void to fill is for Mike to play. Whether that is in Wales, England or France, that his down to his agent and Mike."

Howley echoed Wales coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton by voicing support for Phillips, who has won 77 caps for his country and taken part in two British and Irish Lions tours.

"It is up to Mike to get his own house in order and focus on what he needs to focus on in his preparation over the next nine days," Howley added.

"Mike Phillips is an outstanding player. He has been on two Lions tours, he has got experience and he is vital to our game. In saying that, you haven't got a divine right to wear that national jersey. We keep saying that to our players.

"We can only judge him in our own environment. He will continue to perform at the highest level, that's what we expect of Mike. You have to act professionally on and off the field, and he has fallen short, hasn't he, on some occasions."