Dragons chief Gareth Davies dismisses Mike Phillips link
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies has distanced the region from rumours linking them with colourful Wales and British and Irish Lions star Mike Phillips.
Phillips was fired by French club Bayonne last month after being accused of turning up to a video analysis session under the influence of drink.
It was the second time the 2008 and 2012 Grand Slam winner allegedly breached the French Top 14 club’s strict policy on alcohol after being suspended last year following a late night out.
The 77-times capped scrum-half is planning on taking legal action against league strugglers Bayonne following his sacking.
Phillips is unquestionably talented but has long courted controversy off the pitch, perhaps most famously in 2011 when he was suspended from Wales’ pre-World Cup squad after he was led away by police in the early hours of the morning after a row with bouncers outside a McDonald’s.
Pictures on social networking sites showed him being restrained in Cardiff city centre, although he was not arrested.
He ended up being a key member of his country’s successful squad which finished fourth in the World Cup that autumn and has flourished with Wales since, winning successive Six Nations titles and playing in both winning Tests during the Lions’ 2-1 series victory over Australia.
He is now a free agent and the Dragons are the only Welsh region Phillips has not played for.
On being asked if the door was open for the 31-year-old Phillips to come to Rodney Parade, Dragons boss Davies replied: “You look at Mike Phillips as one of the best players in the world but you have realise how often he will be available.
“He’ll be out over the next month (with Wales for the autumn series), will he be eligible for the Amlin Challenge Cup after playing for Bayonne? Then there’s the seven weeks during the Six Nations.”
Davies added: “And I think, to be perfectly honest, that Bayonne will have looked at that and the fact that he hasn’t behaved and that they wouldn’t have seen him for what I think could be over half the period left (of the season).
“Perhaps they are glad to get rid of him because of financial reasons and the fact they aren’t competing at the highest level in the league.”
Former Wales lock Derwyn Jones, now a player agent, added that the Dragons already have a quality No 9 in the guise of Richie Rees who was impressive in his side’s agonising 23-19 home defeat to league champions Leinster last Friday.
“Richie Rees has done so well with the Dragons this season after coming back from Edinburgh,” Jones said.
“He bosses the game well and I would have liked to have seen him stay on the field a bit longer against Leinster.
“I think the team was playing better with him at the helm and also he’s there consistently throughout the whole season.
“I think Mike’s an especially good player and I’m sure there’s a place for him somewhere, he was excellent for the Lions in Australia during the summer, but who knows where he is going to go next?”
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