Wales tour of Australia
Hook and Phillips free for duty
May 15, 2012
Mike Phillips will be available to face the Barbarians © Getty Images
Rob Howley named Bayonne scrum-half Phillips and Perpignan fly-half Hook in a 38-man training squad for the Six Nations champions' summer itinerary on Monday, which includes a June 2 meeting with the Baa-Baas and three Tests against Australia. The squad are set to meet up on May 21, with the exception of the Ospreys' contingent who will be preparing for the RaboDirect Pro 12 final against Leinster.
Bayonne and Perpignan were not obligated to release Phillips and Hook by that date as it falls outside the International Rugby Board's formal date of release for the summer Tests. But the Welsh Rugby Union have been notified by their French counterparts that the players will be available for the start of Wales' training schedule.
Howley praised the move by the French federation saying: "This is fantastic news for us as it means Mike and James will be fully involved in the complete preparation programme we have in place.
"They are both experienced international players but it is still a huge advantage to have them working within our environment from day one. We are extremely grateful to the French Rugby Union and the individual clubs involved for taking this step.
"It is a gesture which will undoubtedly benefit the players and I know they will want to thank their individual clubs for helping them fulfil their international commitments with Wales. It is an example of northern hemisphere rugby working in unity for the benefit of our players and the game in general.
"We are all aware of the difficulties we can encounter when Welsh qualified players are based outside Wales, but this decision shows there are opportunities for us to realise mutual benefits."
Clermont Auvergne full-back Lee Byrne was not included in Howley's squad as he is likely to be in action for his club up until the tour party leaves for three Tests in Australia.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success