Wales want Phillips for 2015 World Cup
ESPN Staff
October 31, 2013
Mike Phillips will hope to start for Wales against South Africa on November 9 © Getty Images

Wales coach Rob Howley is adamant scrum-half Mike Phillips is still part of their plans despite him currently being without a club.

Phillips is training with Wales ahead of their game against South Africa on November 9 after a torrid week which saw him sacked by Top 14 side Bayonne. The news followed Phillips being suspended by the team for allegedly turning up to a video analysis session drunk.

Phillips claims he learned of his dismissal from an interview in a French newspaper on Monday morning, when Bayonne chairman Alain Afflelou described his alleged behaviour as "treason". The scrum-half, who is currently without a club and could conceivably be offered a central contract by the Welsh Rugby Union, has now launched legal proceedings against the Top 14 outfit.

"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 rugby. Whether that is in Wales, England or France, that his down to his agent and Mike. From our perspective, we want Mike to be playing week in, week out."

Howley followed Wales coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton in publicly backing Phillips, who has had his share of off-field problems.

"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. I have communicated with Mike over the last three weeks, like we always do in and out of campaigns. I have got a huge amount of respect for Mike. He is a fantastic player.

"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."

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