Cardiff - Wales are backing scrumhalf Mike Phillips to produce a trademark
big-match performance against South Africa on Saturday, according to assistant
coach Robin McBryde.
VIDEO: Sport24 chats Wales v Boks
Phillips, 31, received the sack from his French club Bayonne for allegedly
being inebriated when he turned up for a video analysis session last month.
The scrumhalf has launched legal proceedings against the Top 14 side, but he
is currently listed as "unattached".
McBryde, however, said Phillips' experience would shine through.
"We can expect a good solid performance from Mike," he said.
"He has probably got to prove his worth, but there is no better big-match
player than Mike Phillips. We've seen that in the past.
"When he needs to deliver the goods, he comes up trumps, and I don't
expect it to be any different on Saturday.
"He is vocal, he is confident and has got a spring in his step. I have
been impressed with him."
Phillips is one of 11 Wales players starting at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium
to have played a part in the British and Irish Lions' 2-1 series win over
Australia in the summer, and McBryde said that was an important factor.
"The Lions tour has given the players a big boost. They've gone that
step further and won a Lions series against Australia," he said.
"It is a tall order (against South Africa). Historically, we have
always struggled, especially early on in the autumn campaigns, and then got
better as the games have progressed.
"However, we've got rid of that as an excuse, especially considering
the summer we had with the players involved with the Lions, and our last match
here was a great day against England (to win the Six Nations), so there are
happy memories coming back.
"We will be trying to recapture some of that form we showed against
But McBryde warned that the Springboks would present a tough challenge,
especially after having gone through the Rugby Championship together.
"South Africa have been together for a number of months, they are
arguably the second-best team in the world and comfortable with their
game," he said.
"It is a tall order, we are not hiding away from that, but also we've
got to take confidence from the individuals we have got in our team as well.
"Everyone is on about how big the South African team is and how
physical they are, but when you look at some of the individuals we've got, we
are not the smallest team in world rugby either."
McBryde added: "South Africa will be keen to recapture their form of
the Rugby Championship, but we've just got to focus on ourselves and make sure
that we are able to live in that arm wrestle, the intensity and keep our
composure and make sure our accuracy is as good as it can be.
"If we can do that we know we are going to be in with a shout."
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Ashley Beck
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 JJ Engelbrecht, 23 Willie le Roux