Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has confirmed he was axed from the squad for Saturday’s second test, but says he is determined to put himself in contention for the series decider in Sydney.
The Wales No 9 has been troubled by a sore knee during the tour and, although he was fit and available for selection for the second Test, the Lions coaching staff opted to rest him and start with Ben Youngs at number nine.
Phillips, who was also part of the 2009 touring party to South Africa, has spoken of his hurt and frustration at having to watch Saturday’s loss from the touchlines.
He said in The Mail on Sunday: “When (Lions assistant coach) Rob Howley told me I hadn’t been selected for the second Test it was absolutely devastating news.
“My heart sank and I had a weird feeling in my stomach. It was incredibly hard to watch from the stands on Saturday, especially after being involved last week. Rob said the coaches had taken the decision to rest me from Saturday’s game because of my knee, but I’m a proud man and I still felt I could have done a job for the team.
“I had an injection on Tuesday with the aim to be fit for the second Test. The reaction to it has been great but unfortunately the coaches decided not to play me. It’s frustrating, but ultimately I have to respect the coaches’ decision.”
He added: “I’m not 100 per cent fit, but then professional rugby players rarely go into games 100 per cent. If I’d been asked to play, I’d have played. The same goes for next week.
“I’m desperate to play next week, of course, but whether the coaches make that call is up to them. They know the extent of the injury to my knee and it’s their call if I play. If they ask me to, I will.
“I’ve just got to get myself 100 per cent right and train hard and make sure I’m in the frame for selection for the third Test.”
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