Phillips makes switch to Bayonne
June 13, 2011
Mike Phillips fell out of favour with the Ospreys in his final season at the club © Getty Images
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips has completed a move to French Top 14 side Bayonne.
The British & Irish Lions international has signed a two-year deal with the option of a third having secured an early release from his contract with the Ospreys. The 28-year-old, who will join his new club after the Rugby World Cup, is the third Ospreys player opt for a move across the Channel to France, following in the footsteps of fullback Lee Byrne, who has signed for Clermont Auvergne, and versatile back James Hook who will join Perpignan.
Phillips, capped 52 times by Wales, is Bayonne's latest big name acquisition following the recruitment of France winger Cedric Heymans, All Blacks Joe Rokocoko, Sione Lauaki, and Neemia Tialata and also Australian second-row Mark Chisholm. The French side were linked with another former All Black in Byron Kelleher, but the former Toulouse scrum-half announced he would be joining Top 14 rivals Stade Francais earlier this month.
Phillips, who was also linked with a possible cross-code switch to the Celtic Crusaders, Phillips, was named in Wales' 45-man provisional World Cup squad earlier this month but his international future beyond that tournament is unclear due to his decision to relocate to the continent.
Ospreys boss Scott Johnson, who recently signed Samoan international scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, revealed in April that he was prepared to let Phillips go after a breakdown in the working relationship with the player. "After continued requests from Mike over the last 18 months, we've agreed to let Mike go as soon as he can find another club," Johnson said. "I think it gets to a stage where within an organisation, anyone who doesn't want to be here will move on."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape