One of the stars of the recent Lions tour of South Africa has been added to a stellar Barbarians lineup for their December clash with New Zealand.
Ospreys scrum-half Mike Phillips was one of the biggest success stories for the 2009 Lions, playing in all three Tests against the world champion Springboks.
And now Phillips is set to continue his remarkable year with his first-ever performance for the world’s most-famous invitational team.
“It will be my debut for the Barbarians and it is such an honour to be asked to play,” said Phillips, who beat off the challenge of Harry Ellis and Mike Blair to claim the Lions’ No9 shirt in June and July of this year.
“When I look back at the names that have worn the shirt before me, it’s incredible – a ‘who’s who’ of international rugby.
“It’s fantastic that the tradition of the Barbarians is still going strong in the professional era.
“You only need to look at the squad for this game versus the All Blacks to see how highly regarded the club is.”
Phillips will go head-to-head to with South African scrum-half Fourie du Preez for a starting spot for the Baa-Baas, just five months after the two locked horns in the recent Lions series.
He will also rub shoulders with the likes of Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha – all of whom faced Ian McGeechan’s tourists during the memorable three-match Test series.
Phillips is joined in the Baa-Baas squad by world-class performers Matt Giteau, Juan-Martin Hernandez and Stirling Mortlock, with Barbarian president Micky Steele-Bodger confident that he can put together an outfit capable of competing with the All Blacks at Twickenham on December 5.
“Matches between the club and the All Blacks have always had a special resonance,” said Steele-Bodger.
“The classic game in 1973 remains an obvious memory for everyone, but over the years the Barbarian club has continued to have positive links with the New Zealand rugby fraternity in general.
“Of course, the quality of the All Blacks speaks for itself but we are confident that we will complete the recruitment of an outstanding squad ourselves for what promises to be yet another mouthwatering match.”