Wales v England, Six Nations Championship, February 14
Phillips urges Welsh confidence
February 11, 2009
Mike Phillips has urged Wales to show their class against England © Getty Images
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips has urged his team-mates to show the same level of confidence that carried them to a 26-13 win over Scotland at Murrayfield when they face off against perennial enemies England in the Six Nations on Saturday. Last weekend's win in Edinburgh sent Wales into their best-ever world rankings position of fourth, and now they carry the unfamiliar tag of favourites for Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown.
"We've got to be confident after the way we won on Sunday," said the Ospreys scrum-half. "But England will be a tough match. It is the biggest game on the calendar and they will be up for it. But we've got enough firepower to win - we want to be on their case all the time.
"It will be a nice tag to have, going in against them as favourites. It will be a tough first 20 minutes against them but if we come out like we did against Scotland it will be great. We hit the field running and all the boys were oozing confidence throughout because they know they've got the talent coming off the bench as well."
When Warren Gatland took the reins as Wales coach at the beginning of 2008 they were languishing in 10th position in the rankings before bouncing-back to win a Grand Slam in the Six Nations. Gatland's training methods and demands for commitment have seen him installed as a coach on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer, and Phillips believes that there is easily more to come from Wales.
"We prepared for it superbly and in training the work-rate has been there. We have raised the bar a lot from last season and it's 10 to 15% more professional again this time," he said. "Our record at Murrayfield has not been the best but we showed how professional we were, we carried it through and it showed the quality of the side."
Wales have delayed announcing their side for Saturday's game until Thursday in order to give star wing Shane Williams, centre Gavin Henson and skipper Ryan Jones time to recover from injury. Williams injured his ankle late on at Murrayfield, while Henson and Jones both missed out with calf strains.