7:54am Tuesday 4th February 2014
By Andrew Penman
WALES and British & Irish Lions star Mike Phillips says friendships will go out of the window for 80 minutes in Dublin on Saturday.
Warren Gatland’s men travel to face Ireland on Saturday after an unconvincing home win over Italy in their Six Nations opener.
The Irish opened their campaign with a comfortable victory over Scotland to set up a crucial clash with defending champions Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
The match brings together two sets of players who bonded over success with the Lions under Gatland in Australia last summer but Phillips insists that will count for nothing come 2.30pm on Saturday.
“We know each other a bit more but we’re professional and we treat every game the same,” said the 31-year-old Racing Metro scrum-half.
“Paul O’Connell is a great guy as well, a real gentleman, and Conor Murray is a top player and a top guy off the field as well.
“I got to know him a bit on the Lions tour and he’s one of the top scrum-halfs out there.
“We are friendly but it’s all about winning. You play hard and then shake hands when it’s all over. That’s what rugby is all about.
“It’s an emotional game and emotions will be high on the weekend but I just hope we can control ours and come out on top.
“And if you know the guys you can send them a cheeky text after you’ve won.”
Phillips is relishing what will be one of the biggest hurdles for Wales to clear if they are to seal a third straight Six Nations championship.
“It’s a big game and away from home it’s going to be a tough match,” he said.
“They had a good win against Scotland, they beat us last year and they had a good autumn so they’re full of confidence at the minute.
“But we had a good win on the weekend as well and hopefully we can put some things right in training this week and go out there full of confidence as well.
“We’ve had some big matches with them over the years, in the World Cup as well, and that is what it’s all about; big rivalries.
“It’s a great place to play and we did well there two years ago in a great game for the neutral. Hopefully it will be the same again.”
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