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Sacked scrumhalf Mike Phillips named in strong Welsh side to face Springboks

Lions captain Sam Warburton will lead the Welsh while Ospreys winger Eli Walker is set for his Test debut.

Phillips celebrating the Lions' series victory in Australia last June.
Phillips celebrating the Lions' series victory in Australia last June.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire.

SACKED BAYONNE SCRUMHALF Mike Phillips has been named to start against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.

Phillips, who was relieved of playing duties at the Top 14 side for showing up inebriated at a morning training session, will line-up with 10 Welsh Lions. Ospreys winger Eli Walker has also been named and is set for his Test debut.

Meanwhile Rhys Priestland returns at outhalf after missing all of Wales’s Six Nations title-winning campaign last season with an Achilles injury.

British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton again captains the side from the back-row where Dan Lydiate, one of the stars of the combined side’s 2-1 series win in Australia this year, makes his first Wales appearance since 2012 following an ankle injury.

Welsh coach Warren Gatland has overseen three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final appearance since taking charge of Wales in 2008.

Wales’s record in that same period against the southern hemisphere giants of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia has been dire, with just one win — against Australia in 2008 — compared to 20 defeats. However, their poor run against the Springboks — one win in 26 Tests stretching back 107 years — was established long before the New Zealander took charge of Wales.

South Africa have arrived in Europe on the back of finishing highly creditable second behind world champions New Zealand in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and are sure to provide tough opposition.

Gatland commented, “We always say we like to test ourselves against the best and Saturday is going to be just that with a huge game against South Africa first up. The Springboks arrive in the UK off the back of their impressive Rugby Championship campaign and we know that we need to start well.”

“We go into the series as Six Nations Champions but we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides and showing what we are can do,” he added.

As well as the Springboks, Wales’s November programme also features Cardiff internationals against Argentina, Tonga and Australia. South Africa are due to name their side on Wednesday.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Eli Walker; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt) Dan Lydiate; Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies; Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Scott Andrews, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Liam Williams.

© AFP 2013

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