Welsh Grand Slammers Mike Phillips and Gavin Henson will be free to launch their bids for British & Irish Lions selection in the November internationals after successfully coming through operations this summer.
The Ospreys duo missed Wales’ two-Test tour to South Africa in June, but are well on the road to recovering in time to meet the world champions at the Millennium Stadium in the Invesco Perpetual Series.
Scrum half Phillips underwent reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee at the start of April, while Henson had keyhole surgery on damaged ankle ligaments later that same month. While Henson is still in a walking plaster, Phillips is now half-way through his rehabilitation programme.
"“An ACL reconstruction will always require somewhere in the region of a six month rehabilitation programme, and Mike is three months into it. He is recovering well and at this stage is easily achieving all his targets in terms of physical recovery and is starting to develop his strength and power," said Ospreys physio Chris Towers.
"Over the next week or so he’ll resume controlled skill sessions, but he is still a long way from full contact work. He is on target to return at the end of September or early October.”
Phillips established himself as the top scrum half in Wales last season, leapfrogging 2005 Lions Test starter Dwayne Peel, and is tipped by many to be in Ian McGeechan’s squad for next year’s tour. Henson is well known to Lions head coach McGeechan having appeared three times in his midweek team on the 2005 tour to New Zealand.
The enigmatic centre also forced his way into the Test team for the second international against the All Blacks, but was overlooked for the third.
“Gavin is still in a walking plaster, which is scheduled to come off on 10 July. Once it has been removed then we’ll be looking at working closely with him to get it functioning properly," said Towers.
"The indications are that the ankle is coming along well and we are looking towards Gavin returning to action towards the end of September.”