Monday 20 November 2017

'It's an amazing feeling to represent your country'- Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips retires from international rugby

Mike Phillips in action against Ireland during the 2009 Grand Slam decider Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Mike Phillips in action against Ireland during the 2009 Grand Slam decider Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Tom Rooney

Wales most capped scrum half Mike Phillips has announced his retirement from international rugby.

The 33-year-old half back won a total of 99 caps over the course of a 12 year international career; 94 for Wales and 5 for the British and Irish Lions.

At 6’3 and over 15st, Phillips broke the mould for the archetypical number nine and made a name for himself with an abrasive style of play. Not the most reliable passer in the world, he more than compensated with excellent ball-carrying around the fringes and stout defending. He won Grand Slams with Wales in 2008 and 2012, and a Six Nations Championship in 2013.

"This is a chance for me to bring this chapter of my life to a close," said Phillips in a statement.

"Playing for Wales has been such a huge part of my adult life and this is a chance for me to say thank you to everyone from family and friends, the coaches and management of the Welsh Rugby Union, all of the great players that I have been fortunate enough to play with and against and of course the fantastic Welsh fans for their great support.

"It was always a dream of mine to play for Wales, it meant everything to me and it's an amazing feeling to represent your country. For me it was a privilege."

He represented Wales in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, the latter of which saw them reach the semi-final, where they came up short against France. Following an injury to Rhys Webb, Phillips was drafted into the Welsh squad for this year's tournament but was never called upon by Warren Gatland.

He was selected by the Lions in 2009 and 2013, and played a pivotal role in the combination side’s test series victory over Australia two years ago.

At the age of 20, he made his senior club debut for the Scarlets, before moving to the Cardiff Blues and then the Ospreys.

In the summer of 2011, Phillips moved to French outfit Bayonne, who sacked him two years later for an incident of  misconduct, which involved him being drunk at a video analysis session. Later that year, he joined Racing Metro where, initially, he was teamed up with compatriots Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts as well as Lions colleague Johnny Sexton. 

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