Good for a gag, but the truth is Mike re­ally was world class

The Rugby Paper - - Interview -

MIKE Phillips is one of my best mates and the best scrum-half I played with. The thing with Mike is that he was a scrum-half, but in some ways he was an ex­tra for­ward too. That had its ad­van­tages! He was phys­i­cal, vo­cal, and ev­ery­one in the pack re­spected him, even though I had to cover his arse when he was yel­low carded a few times!

He had a great ca­reer with Wales, but off the field he was some­one you wanted in your camp. He has an in­fec­tious per­son­al­ity, a dry sense of hu­mour, and he is well liked by ev­ery­one.

On the 2009 Lions tour, I thought he was our best player. Mike al­ways seemed to play his best rugby against the best teams in the world and on that trip, the way South Africa played the game suited him down to the ground. Fourie du Preez and Schalk Burger cer­tainly got him tick­ing!

I played a lot of rugby with Mike for both the Ospreys and Wales and it meant we spent a lot of time to­gether. He was al­ways great to go for a beer or a cof­fee with and ev­ery­one knows how much fun he is away from rugby.

There are so many sto­ries I have about Mike, only some are print­able! I think ev­ery­one knows the one about when we were fly­ing to an away game with Wales and the air stew­ardess asked Mike if he was in busi­ness or econ­omy class. Mike’s re­ply that he was “world-class” has gone down in Welsh rugby folk­lore and the fact his sport­ing idol is Ge­orge Best tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about him.

I also re­mem­ber Mike com­plain­ing at the 2011 World Cup he had a bad back. He was telling the phys­ios and any­one who would lis­ten that his back had gone un­til fi­nally some­one asked what was up. “My back’s gone from car­ry­ing the rest of the team through this tour­na­ment,” was Mike’s re­sponse. It brought the house down, but I’m not sure War­ren Gat­land was too im­pressed!

The stew­ardess story gets a few laughs now, but Mike re­ally was world-class on the field. He had a great pass, could mix it phys­i­cally, and will be re­mem­bered as one of Wales’ best No. 9s. I wish him all the best and I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him in rugby.

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