Mike Phillips returns to action for the Ospreys this weekend after being handed the number nine shirt for Friday's trip to Connacht in the first Magners League game of the new season.
The scrum-half spent the summer in South Africa with the British & Irish Lions, and it had been expected that he wouldn’t be involved in the opening weeks of the new season following the Lions’ delayed start to pre-season training.
Such is Phillips’ physical condition though, not to mention his enthusiasm and desire to play rugby, that the coaching team have given him the nod to return to action in time for the opening fixture, after fellow scrum-half Jamie Nutbrown was ruled out with a finger injury, and he will start on Friday evening. He said:
“I’m pleased to be back, I’ve enjoyed pre-season and it’s nice to be able to get straight back into the swing of things. It’s a shame for Jamie to miss out because of injury, but I’m happy to be able to step back in and get back onto the field as an Osprey. I’m a professional rugby player and I’m paid to do a job that I love, so every opportunity you get to play is pretty special. I’d much rather be out there playing again on Friday night than sitting at home.
“I think I’m in pretty good nick and I feel ready to play again, I’ve had my time off and done the pre-season work so I’m really looking forward to starting again. I enjoy my training and give it everything, but it’s all about performing on matchday. I missed the first few months of last season because of injury so I wasn’t too keen on sitting on the sidelines through September this time as well. It’s good to be there from the very start this season and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy Friday night’s game.”
Phillips says that his ‘unexpected’ return to Ospreys action doesn’t really come as a surprise as he wasn’t ever working towards a specific target. Having enjoyed a short summer break he insists that he was just waiting for the nod to be involved again and he’s glad that it came sooner rather than later:
“I was never given a strict return date, and wasn’t targeting a particular game, but I think I would have been involved somewhere along the line in the second or third game whatever happened. After the coaches spoke to me about being involved on Friday I’ve been full of it, I just can’t wait to play rugby again, it’s what I do.
“I’ve enjoyed my time off, had a good holiday and charged the batteries, but I’m not the kind to just shut off for too long which is why I’m raring to go now. I’m excited about playing again. I’ve done all my fitness work, now it’s about game time.”