Phillips: I'm back to my best
October 18, 2011
Mike Phillips scores for Wales against France in the RWC semi final © Getty Images
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips believes he has discovered his best form since the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
The former Ospreys No.9, who will join French club Bayonne after the tournament, endured a difficult tournament build-up. He was briefly removed from Wales' pre-World Cup training group earlier this year after pictures emerged of him being restrained by bouncers in central Cardiff during the early hours of the morning.
But his World Cup performances have been top-drawer, underlined by him scoring tries against quarter-final opponents Ireland and Wales' semi-final conquerors France.
"I am really pleased with my form throughout the tournament. All aspects of my game have been up there," Phillips said. "This has been a chance for me to be on the big stage and show everyone what I can do. I think I've done that, and I am pretty pleased.
"I wanted to come here and express myself, and I've worked really hard on my game on the training field. In Wales I am portrayed a certain way, but I think it's wrong. A lot of people don't really know me.
"When people say nice things about you it's great. I've had enough people saying bad things about me in the last year. I will take all the compliments I can get. Some people back home think I am something I am not.
"I am a rugby player, and the opinions of my family, team-mates and friends are all that matter to me really. I've had great support from them. Other people's opinions don't really matter. That said, hopefully people will look at me as a top player after this World Cup."
Phillips compared the feelings of Wales' semi-final loss to the Lions' Test series defeat against South Africa two years ago, but he knows the importance of regrouping rapidly for Friday's bronze medal match against Australia.
"The Lions was absolutely devastating," he added. "This was similar. Obviously, it's bitterly disappointing and we are feeling pretty low, but we've got the chance to put things right on Friday.
"It's been tough. Initially, you want to be a million miles away from it all, but we've got another chance to play for Wales and put the red jersey on, which means so much to us all. We've got to move on. It's professional rugby. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, otherwise we are going to get really whipped.
"We have to go out there and be big and bold and express ourselves and perform. The support back home has been immense. It's really lifted all the players. We want to win this game for them as much as for ourselves. It would still be a great achievement, but obviously we wanted to get to the final, and who knows what could have happened then? But that has all gone now.
"It will possibly be a better game than the final. Hopefully, it will be an open game because both teams will want to throw the ball around, I am sure, and express themselves."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall