Rees sets sights on Lions tour
July 31, 2012
Wales hooker Matthew Rees is hoping to put his recent injury woe behind him and earn selection for next year's Lions tour © Getty Images
Wales hooker Matthew Rees is determined to put his recent injury woe firmly behind him and earn selection for the British & Irish Lions' tour to Australia next year.
The 31-year-old missed the 2011 Rugby World Cup with a neck injury and was also a bit-part player in Wales' latest Six Nations Grand Slam campaign due to a calf problem but he was back in the mix for last month's tour of Australia and is determined to kick on again this coming season with the prospect of a second Lions tour, having played in all three Tests against South Africa in 2009, an enticing prospect.
"It's going to be interesting and, for me, that's the end goal, the Lions," he told the Western Mail. "My form (last season) was pretty frustrating. It was just a case of getting through the season after having the neck operation then missing the opening of the Six Nations because of a calf injury.
"I was playing catch-up all season. Missing pre-season training, because of my neck, didn't help me. I came back and was playing more or less straight-away because the season was well underway. The main aim was to play but the injuries and missing the World Cup knocked me down a few pegs."
But Rees knows his place in Warren Gatland's plans for a busy November that includes clashes with Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Wales is far from assured with the likes of Ken Owens, Wales U20 captain Kirby Myhill and Emyr Phillips set to rival him for the No.2 jersey at the Scarlets.
"I have got a lot on my hands with Ken, Emyr and Kirby," added Rees. "I know I am capable of nailing down the No.2 spot. There may be a Lions tour at the end of next season, but I have to take it a game at a time. The playing field wasn't level last season because I was playing catch-up. But I am confident, if I have a good pre-season, I can get back to my best."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra