Gibbs eyes place with the Lions
April 3, 2000

Scott Gibbs has sent out a warning message to Australia by revealing he is targeting a British Lions place next year.

Gibbs, who played a big part in the Lions' series victory in South Africa in 1997, is determined to prove he is still one of world rugby's best centres.

The Swansea player had a disappointing World Cup but made his international comeback in Wales' 23-19 Six Nations Championship victory over Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Now Gibbs is determined to use that as a launching pad for a third Lions tour, effectively ruling out speculation he might return to rugby league in the near future.

"It was great to get back into the Welsh team and contribute to the victory," said Gibbs, who was given the nod after clubmate Mark Taylor failed his battle for fitness.

"I have had a disappointing year. It has not gone well and next year I want to get back to where I should be.

"Next year is a huge one for British rugby. The Lions is my target but that does not mean I will finish after that."

Gibbs had not played for Wales because of injury since the World Cup quarter-final defeat by Australia last November, but was assured of a winning return by the boot of Neil Jenkins.

The outside-half came off the replacements' bench to land two penalties after Ireland had stormed back from an 11-point deficit to lead with just minutes left.

Maiden tries from flanker Nathan Budgett and outside-half Stephen Jones, who made way for Jenkins, had given Wales a comfortable advantage.

Ireland hit back through the boot of Ronan O'Gara and a fine try from wing Shane Horgan, but they were left to rue the accuracy of Jenkins as they were denied a fourth successive championship win for the first time in 52 years.

The teams finished level on six points although France claimed the runners-up spot ahead of the Irish and both nations were left looking to the future.

"I think Welsh rugby is healthier today," said coach Graham Henry at the end of his second northern hemisphere campaign.

"We have got more players who are playing at this level. When you have got more to choose from that creates competition and we did not have that before. We are in a positive situation now but we need to build on that."

Henry again insisted he had no thoughts about returning to New Zealand, while countryman Warren Gatland will sit down with his Irish bosses in the next couple of weeks to sort out an extension to his contract.

"All the players are keen to stay on and as for myself I have no doubts at all," said Gatland.

"We have got some exciting players with pace in the back-line. In the second half against Wales we put some good phases together and looked very dangerous. That's something we can work on.

"We want to continue playing the sort of positive rugby we played in the championship."

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