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Rees on mission to repay Gatland’s faith

Richie Rees could have been excused a double-take as he prepared to embark on the biggest week of his rugby life.

Despite being strongly backed to make a first Wales start against RBS 6 Nations opponents France on Friday night, Rees knew he could take nothing for granted until coach Warren Gatland's team announcement.

And then, just when his waiting game threatened to become unbearable, in walked probably the last two people on the planet he wanted to see — British and Irish Lions scrum-halves Mike Phillips and Dwayne Peel.

“I didn't know either of them were coming,” said Rees, following the pair's weekend call-ups.

“When they both walked into the hotel, I thought, ‘here we go!'

“It's nice to have them back but I just try to concentrate on my own game.

“If I was selected, I was selected — if not, it wasn't to be. We will see how Friday goes and then take it from there.”

It says everything about the Cardiff Blues number nine's current form that he won Gatland's vote above two players with 110 caps and two Lions tours between them. Although Phillips and Peel have endured injury-hit seasons and were not named in Gatland's initial Six Nations squad, they are both now fit, available and training.

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