Rees: Phillips has a point to prove
Captain Matthew Rees believes Mike Phillips "has a big point to prove" after having his suspension from Wales' preliminary World Cup squad lifted earlier this week.
The scrum-half, who recently sealed a move from the Ospreys to French club Bayonne, was dropped from the squad on June 17 after being involved in an incident outside a McDonalds at 3am in Cardiff city centre. But Phillips met with WRU bosses on Monday and was re-instated in coach Warren Gatland's 45-man panel.
Speaking at the launch of Wales' Under Armour kit for the global showpiece in New Zealand, Rees said: "We all know how great a player Mike is and it was unfortunate for him to get caught up in what happened, but it is great to have him back in the squad and I am sure he will feel he has a big point to prove to everyone."
He added: "Everyone is working very hard to prepare for the World Cup, Mike is no different and I have no doubt he will be fully focused with guys like Dwayne (Peel), Tavis (Knoyle) and Richie (Rees) competing for his jersey."
The incident involving Phillips came not long after fellow Wales squad members Gavin Henson and Andy Powell had faced disciplinary problems of their own.
Henson was suspended for one week in April by Toulon for fighting with two team-mates and one month later Powell left Wasps in the wake of a fracas with football fans in a London pub.
Powell was also suspended by Wales in February 2010 after driving a golf buggy up the hard shoulder of the M4 motorway whilst over the legal alcohol limit following the Six Nations win over Scotland.
Rees admits such incidents are a distraction, but has called on all players in the national squad to focus all their energies on New Zealand, where Wales have been drawn in a tough group including world champions South Africa, 2007 conquerors Fiji, Samoa and Namibia.
"It is a distraction but the main thing now is the World Cup," he said.
"That is what we have to focus on and work towards. It has been made clear to us that we are professionals and we know there are sacrifices we have to make. These things can be frustrating sometimes but the boys have been spoken to and we are all focusing on the World Cup."