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Phillips is a scapegoat - Williams

Shane Williams has questioned whether Bayonne are making his former Wales team-mate Mike Phillips a scapegoat.

Phillips' future at the French Top 14 club is in grave doubt after he allegedly turned up drunk for a players' video analysis session earlier this month.

It is thought that the 31-year-old might hear of his fate over the weekend, amid intense speculation that his club contract could be terminated.

If that transpires, then the scrum-half would be left without a club as he prepares to join the Wales squad for next month's Tests against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia.

But ex-Wales wing Williams, his country's record international try-scorer, leapt to Phillips' defence in a series of tweets on Friday.

"Is Mike Phillips a scapegoat for Bayonne? Sacking him will free up a lot of euros and ease the pressure of having to lose him during international duties," Williams said.

"It also takes the pressure off the team for their poor league position. Mike's commitment to the club cannot be questioned, having played over 70 games in two-and-a-half seasons, in great form and also seeing off three coaches in the meantime!

"You can also include a (successful) Lions series, Grand Slam and (Six Nations) Championship in that time. Would leaving Bayonne be a bad move for Mike?"

Bayonne have confirmed that Phillips has been suspended over an alleged breach of discipline, but so far denied media reports that he has been sacked.

Phillips, who has won 77 caps and toured with the 2009 and 2013 British and Irish Lions, appeared before Bayonne directors earlier this week.

Team-mates Dwayne Haare and Stephen Brett are also understood to have been implicated and have been fined but not suspended, while Phillips was left out of the matchday 22 squad for Friday's Top 14 game against Montpellier.

Phillips tweeted an apology to Bayonne supporters on Thursday night, stating: "Sorry to all the fans of Bayonne for this situation, I agree wholeheartedly with the team for tomorrow night. Good luck."

It is not the first time that Phillips has found himself in trouble for off-field misdemeanours.

He was suspended by Bayonne last year for off-field misconduct, and was also in trouble with Wales in 2011 following an incident in Cardiff city centre.

Wales coach Warren Gatland, though, lent his support to Phillips when he named him in a 35-man squad earlier this week.

"All I can say is that over the last campaigns with us he has been great," Gatland said.

"He conducted himself extremely well with the Lions in Australia, both on and off the field. I am expecting that same sort of attitude from him when he is involved in this (autumn) campaign.

"We will just sit down and have a quiet chat about where his head's at and what he's doing, but there will be no sanctions for him here in this set-up."


From Belfast Telegraph