Phillips seeks assurance from Bayonne
December 15, 2011
Mike Phillips scores a solo effort for Wales at the World Cup © Getty Images
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips will seek clarification from his French Top 14 club Bayonne in order to be released for national team training sessions ahead of the Six Nations.
Phillips was signed by the club's former director of rugby Christian Gajan at the end of last season, but with Gajan's sacking last week, Phillips finds himself in a precarious position. The 60-time Wales international is now hoping new Bayonne boss Jean-Pierre Elissalde abides by his contract as the club goes through a period of transition.
"I have got a release in my contract that I can go to all training in the Six Nations but there is a new president and a new coach, so I don't know if things are going to change," Phillips told the Telegraph newspaper. "Hopefully, I will be OK.
"The reason why I signed was because the previous coach [Gajan] wanted me to play for Wales and that was part of the deal. He was adamant about it and said it was important for me to play international rugby."
As he awaits clearance from his club, Phillips says he is "loving" the experience of playing in France. A standout for Wales at this year's World Cup, Phillips left Ospreys at the end of last season for a new challenge - one he is enjoying despite Bayonne's indifferent start to the season.
"I am loving every minute of it over here. I am taking four French lessons every week and everyone has made me so welcome. They are even selling Welsh shirts in our club shop. Jean-Pierre [Elissalde] has some great values and I think he will be good for the team.
"I was lucky enough to win man-of-the-match in my first game against Bordeaux, which really helped me settle in. The passion for rugby over here is as intense as it is in Wales.
"I am living just outside Biarritz and the rivalry with Bayonne is something else. We have all got the same club car, which has a big blue strip down the middle so you can see Bayonne players driving from miles away and people will shout abuse at you.
"The first time it happened to me, I pulled over because I thought there was something wrong with my car but the boys said to me it was just because I was driving a Bayonne car," said Phillips.
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