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Phillips hungry for Wales role

Mike Phillips insists he will never lose his competitive streak in the battle for Wales' number nine shirt.

Phillips, 32, looks set to make a first start of the autumn series on Saturday when Wales tackle Millennium Stadium visitors Fiji.

Although he has won 88 Wales caps and featured in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions, Phillips played second fiddle to Rhys Webb on Saturday by providing bench cover against opening autumn opponents Australia.

Gareth Davies, who is currently injured, and his Scarlets colleague Rhodri Williams further underline Wales' scrum-half strength in depth as the countdown continues to next year's World Cup.

Phillips, though, is ready for the challenge in his quest to be part of a third World Cup campaign, more than 12 years after he first entered the international arena.

"I have been fortunate to start a lot for Wales in recent years," he said.

"Rhys deserved his last chance last week. I thought he played well and he took his try very well.

"I am a competitor - I think people know that. I am a proud man and we all want to play for Wales. It's a great thing to have competition in the squad.

"The competition is healthy, and I am enjoying it. You keep driving yourself forward and keep pushing yourself.

"I will always have that competitive streak. It is a big part of my make-up, and it is why I am here, really.

"The World Cup is all of the players' goals - we all want to be there. It is a massive year of rugby in the lead-up, and we have got to play well every time we have the opportunity for Wales."

Head coach Warren Gatland is expected to make a number of changes from the side beaten 33-28 by Australia, with Phillips, fly-half Rhys Priestland, centre Scott Williams, hooker Scott Baldwin and lock Bradley Davies among those who could gain call-ups.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) and fly-half Dan Biggar (groin), meanwhile, look poised to sit out the Fiji clash, although both players remain an integral part of Wales' November plans, with world champions New Zealand and South Africa due in Cardiff later this month.

Assistant coach Rob Howley said: "Leigh is going through his concussion protocols and we are hopeful he will be able to train later in the week.

"If he is not right, it is the same sort of situation and principle we had last week with (centres) Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams. We have to put safety first and make sure this is the same situation with all our players.

"Dan has had a scan today (Monday), and we are waiting for the results. Hopefully, it will not be as bad as we expected, and hopefully he will play a part again.

"I would expect Dan to be available, if not for this weekend, then for the last two matches."

Wales have added Gloucester's 76 times-capped James Hook to their back division options by calling him up to the squad, and a bench role appears likely against Fiji.

Like Australia, Fiji are also in Wales' World Cup pool next autumn. On their last Millennium Stadium visit four years ago, the South Sea Islanders claimed a 16-16 draw.

"Warren has mentioned there will be some changes," Howley added. "Whatever side is selected will be strong. There will be a couple of opportunities for players, but expect a strong side to be selected.

"The last time we played them with our near full-strength side we won 66-0 (2011 World Cup).

"The one thing that changed on that day was our attitude, and I have no doubt our attitude will be right on Saturday with people playing for World Cup places. It will be key on Saturday when you play against Fiji with their physicality."

And Phillips said: "They have the ability to score tries from everywhere. We all know they are a very dangerous team.

"Set-piece is key. It is an area where we will be looking to dominate. They like an open game, and hopefully we can keep it tight, keep the scoreboard ticking over, be professional and accurate."

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