Lions tourist Dwayne Peel has wrestled back the Wales No9 shirt – and could be set for a return home rugby next season.
The injury-enforced absence of this year’s Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has given Peel a chance to become his country’s first-choice once more and he is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
The Lions’ 2005 Test scrum-half has been given the nod over fellow Lion Gareth Cooper and Scarlets youngster Martin Roberts and will make his first Test start at home in 20 months against Samoa on Friday night.
Wales boss and 2009 Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland has expressed his desire to see his stars plying their trade in the Wales and was frustrated that Peel was the only player from his 28-man squad unavailable for last Saturday’s defeat to New Zealand due to red tape.
Premier Rugby Ltd, the umbrella body of the Guinness Premiership, refused to release England-based Peel for the clash against the All Blacks in Cardiff as the Test was played outside of the international window.
Now the 2005 British & Irish Lion, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is likely to spark a bidding war between Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys and former club the Scarlets in January.
"I was bitterly disappointed to miss the New Zealand game and it was frustrating,” admitted the 28-year-old, who played in all three internationals when the Lions took on the All Blacks four years ago.
"There is a rule in place by the PRL and I didn’t agree with it. But there was nothing I could do.
"I don’t regret the move to Sale and I believe it has made me a better player in many aspects. But I’m sure my international future will play a significant bearing on my decision.
"It is for me to sit down when the time is right to discuss it. I will have to speak to a number of people and go from there.
"I’m trying to concentrate on my rugby at the moment. It’s a massive honour to be back in the starting line-up and a fresh start for me with Wales.
"I had a groin operation is the summer and have worked really hard to get back. Now the ball is in my court to perform – it’s a big few weeks for me."