Despite arriving at the club in early December, Welsh international Mike Phillips has yet to wear the Ciel et Blanc jersey in front of the home crowd at Colombes. But as fate would have it, for his first game at Yves-du-Manoir, on Friday evening (9.00 pm) the Lions scrum-half may well come up against his first professional club, the Scarlets.
Mike, how do you feel about the prospect of playing against the Scarlets for your home début at Colombes?
I am not sure yet whether I will be selected, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. I can’t wait to have my first game at Yves-du-Manoir. Growing up as a kid I always supported the Scarlets, and even if the club was called Llanelli at the time, it’s where I got my start in professional rugby. I played two years for the Llanelli –21s, and then had two seasons for the first team before moving to Cardiff. For me, playing my first home game for Racing against my first professional club, somehow that has a nice ring to it.
So your team-mates can count on you for some inside information on the Scarlets?
Not really. There are a few familiar faces in this side, I played alongside the current coaches Simon Easterby and Mark Jones, but most of the guys who were there in my early years have moved on. Anyway, with video analysis in today’s rugby, there are no longer any secrets and no matter what team we are playing against, in the build-up we look into every nook and cranny of their game.
But with your inside knowledge of the Scarlets what is the message you can pass on to your Ciel et Blanc team-mates?
The first message would be: beware of the Scarlets! Over the years, they have always had dangerous backs, and when I followed them as a kid they were always an exciting team to watch. It is a team which plays the wide game, an expansive game, and that is the identity of the club. They will be coming over here to throw the ball around, because that is traditionally the Scarlets’ style. But this is a very young side, they seem to be even more expansive, running the more even more than in the past. They are young players, full of confidence, with nothing to lose. So I am expecting a tough game against a very dangerous opponent.
What better opportunity for the Ciel et Blanc to get back to their winning ways?
Our last game at home was superb, with a great win against Toulon! Back on our home pitch again, it is crucial that we retain that momentum. Teams who come to play us have to know that they are in for a fight, and that they will have to scrap for every point. We have a very important three weeks coming up, with this H Cup match, followed by Clermont and then Toulouse at home. It is important that we keep the momentum, that we improve in every game, and get some big wins in the next couple of weeks. Starting with the Scarlets on Friday!
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