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Webb shocked by France start

Rhys Webb will complete a stunning recovery from serious injury when he lines up as Wales' starting scrum-half against RBS 6 Nations opponents France on Friday night.

It is barely nine months ago that the Ospreys player ruptured his cruciate knee ligament and underwent surgery.

But after returning to action last November two months ahead of schedule, Webb has now taken the Wales number nine shirt off Mike Phillips.

Phillips, who has amassed 82 Wales caps, won two Grand Slams and been a British and Irish Lions Test player on two different tours, will find himself on the bench when France arrive at the Millennium Stadium.

It is an achievement in itself for Webb to be selected above Phillips, but to accomplish it on the back of such a lengthy lay-off speaks volumes for his form.

"I definitely didn't see this happening (Wales selection) when I picked up the injury," Webb said.

"I had a timescale that I would be back the end of January. Fair play to the physios and conditioning staff at the Ospreys for getting me back earlier and enabling me to get a good run of games in.

"I've put in a lot of work for this and I'm really glad to be here now. It's very special. My phone has been going mad and I just can't wait to get out there on Friday.

"My friends and family have been massive to me through tough times with my injuries and stood by me. It's going to be great to see them there, singing the anthem. It will be a dream come true, really."

It will be Webb's fifth cap, but his first start, lining up in a Wales team showing three changes from the one crushed 26-3 by Ireland 11 days ago.

"As a kid, all you want to do is play for your country," Webb added. "Obviously, I've had a taste of it coming off the bench, but to actually get the start now is really special.

"Hearing the news I was starting was awesome. It's something I've always wanted to do.

"Mike has been there a long time and he is a world-class player. We get on well off the pitch. He congratulated me and just told me to enjoy it.

"He's been pretty good, fair play to him. I know it's probably tough. He probably didn't expect it, but there you go.

"I know he has had 80-odd caps, but to be honest I don't really care about things like that. I just want to get there and get the jersey and do the best I can for the team. Hopefully, one day I can get as many caps as he has.

"I see myself as a runner and trying to get away from these big guys and creating space for the backs. I am just going to play my natural game and play what's on, but it's going to be a matter of control as well."


From Belfast Telegraph