Mike Phillips has described how his international career with Wales was almost brought to a premature end due to a falling out with Warren Gatland.
Experienced international scrum-half Phillips had a long history of working with Gatland at both Wales and the British and Irish Lions, but the two weren’t on good terms during the 2014 Six Nations campaign.
Wales opened their championship campaign with a narrow eight-point win against Italy in Cardiff, before they suffered a 23-point loss to Ireland in their second round encounter.
Phillips admits that he didn’t play well in that game, partially due to a pectoral injury he was suffering with, and got in an argument with veteran Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins the day after the match in Dublin.
While the scrum-half insists that the incident with Jenkins was nothing to create a fuss about, Phillips reveals in his new book ‘Half Truths’ that it led to a bigger incident between himself and Gatland.
Mike Phillips on his fraying relationship with Warren Gatland.
“The coaches made a bigger deal out of it though. Gats didn’t like it. Keep in mind this was the same guy who let Gav [Henson] leave a World Cup training camp to film his own reality TV show but now he wanted to make a fuss about this?” Phillips explained, via WalesOnline.
“He was believing his own hype by this point and I think he wanted to show me who was boss. Either way, it didn’t really help my cause going forward. I got quite annoyed, went straight to my room, packed my bag and was going to get my own flight home.
“A lot of things were building up, the injury, the yellow card, the performance, the way Gats was now behaving towards me.
“I got into a taxi outside the hotel and drove 200 yards down the road before I saw sense and told him to stop. Nobody knows about that… until now. I had a bit of a word with myself and walked back to the hotel before getting straight on the bus.
“That would have been the end of my Wales career right there had I gone through with it. I’m glad I saw sense because that’s not the correct way to carry yourself.”
One week to go until publication of my book Half TRUTHS published by @reach_sport. Come along to a signing. Be great to see you.
— Mike Phillips (@mikephillips009) October 14, 2021
The Welshman won his last test cap in 2015.
While Phillips’ international career did not end after that loss to Ireland in 2014, Rhys Webb did nail down the number nine shirt in the following weeks, while Phillips was mostly limited to making appearances off the bench.
The experienced scrum-half made three appearances for Wales off the bench in the 2015 Six Nations, but he missed out on selection for his country’s squad in that year’s Rugby World Cup.
Phillips was ultimately called up to Wales’ Rugby World Cup squad after Webb pulled out of the tournament due to an injury, but Phillips didn’t get any game time, as Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams were selected ahead of him for every match.
The former Lions scrum-half announced his retirement from international rugby after the tournament, although he continued playing club rugby until 2017.