Record breaker Mike Phillips gets Dwayne Peel backing
MIKE Phillips is set to become Wales’ most capped scrum half of all time this weekend and is being backed to join the 100-cap club by his old rival Dwayne Peel.
Bayonne No 9 Phillips is on course to win his 77th cap against Grand Slam-chasing England in Saturday’s Six Nations decider at the Millennium Stadium.
If he is selected on Thursday, he will overtake the record he and Peel currently share as Wales’ most experienced inside halves.
Phillips made a try-scoring Test debut against Romania in Wrexham nearly ten years ago in a pre-World Cup warm-up game in 2003.
The former Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys star has gone from strength to strength and will top an impressive list that includes legendary Wales nines like Gareth Edwards (53 caps), Robert Jones (54 caps) and current caretaker coach Rob Howley (59 caps).
Sale Sharks scrum half Peel won the last of his 76 caps as a replacement for Phillips in the 28-9 defeat to France in Paris during the 2011 Six Nations.
And the Lion, who won the Grand Slam in 2005 and 2008, expects his 30-year-old former Wales teammate to be around for a while yet.
“You never know what’s around the corner, but I think it’s probable Mike will go on to hit 100 caps,” Peel said.
“As long as he stays fit, he should get there. He’s obviously a good player. His biggest strength is his competitiveness. That goes a long way to making him the player he is.”
Peel, 31, is currently out injured after he fractured his jaw and was at Murrayfield as a spectator last Saturday to see Wales win their third Six Nations game in a row.
He is optimistic they can stop England in their tracks and retain the Six Nations title after they won the Grand Slam last year.
“It would be great for the boys to win the title,” the former Scarlets man said.
“I thought they did really well to get a result up in Scotland. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but they fronted up and played to the conditions.”
Peel, 31, who has started just four Tests in the past five years, said he still harbours a desire to play for his country again: “Being at the Scotland game does make you realise how much you miss international rugby – the atmosphere and everything.
“Do I still want to play for my country? Of course. You have to have those ambitions. It means a huge amount.”