More to come from Lion

Lions star Mike Phillips says he still has plenty of room for improvement. [more]

More to come from Lion

Lions star Mike Phillips says he still has plenty of room for improvement.

More to come


The Wales scrum-half was one of the standout performers on last year’s tour of South Africa, starting all three Tests against the Springboks and winning plenty of plaudits along the way.

But Phillips insists rugby fans haven’t seen the best of him yet – which is clearly good news for the Lions as they look ahead to the 2013 trip to Australia.

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The Ospreys No9 suffered a major injury setback shortly after his return from Lions duty, damaging ankle ligaments that kept him out from October until late February.

Those six months on the sidelines didn’t appear to have too much of a detrimental impact on Phillips’ game, however, as he returned to Wales duty by the end of the Six Nations and made an immediate impression.

The 27-year-old has since gone on to guide the Ospreys to Saturday’s Magners League Grand Final yet he views his contribution this term as nothing more than average.

"The season has gone okay for me but I have high expectations of myself,” said Phillips, who should get reacquainted with the Springboks when Wales welcome the World Champions on June 5 prior to their summer tour of New Zealand.

"I'm very critical of my own game and that's why I have achieved great things in the game. I always think I can play better and there is more to come.

"I had a disappointing injury but now I feel fresh and want to end the season on a high. There are plenty of carrots to push yourself and I'm really excited.

"Cardiff Blues won a trophy last weekend and the Welsh lads will have gained confidence from that ahead of the summer so hopefully we can do the same."

Phillips will come face to face with a number of fellow Lions this weekend when the Ospreys travel to Dublin to face Leinster in the deciding fixture of the Celtic League season.

And while Phillips has the utmost respect for all of his Lions colleagues, one particular opponent on Saturday night has been singled out for special praise.

Phillips has hailed Leinster powerhouse Jamie Heaslip as one of the best No8's in the world, just days after Heaslip was crowned the Irish province's Player of the Year.

The pair linked up to devastating effect both on and off the field during last summer's series in South Africa before sharing a week-long trip to Las Vegas.

But, although Phillips has praised his close pal, the Ospreys scrum-half insists he is hell-bent on making history with a third league title for the Welsh region at the RDS.

"There is a lot of respect between the Ospreys and Leinster lads who went on the Lions and we mixed well on tour,” said Phillips, who played alongside Heaslip in all three Tests for Sir Ian McGeechan’s tourists 11 months ago.

"In fact, I even went on holiday with Jamie to Vegas afterwards. We had a great time and we're good mates.

"He's a confident and vocal player who has been in great form and is one of the best around at the moment – he has had a great year with Leinster and Ireland as well as the Lions tour.

"We played Leinster in Dublin a couple of weeks ago and he was on song again. Jamie's a great ball-carrier and we'll have to stop him at source.

"I am looking forward to meeting up with him but this match will be full on."

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