Peel still dreams of Wales

Lions tourist Dwayne Peel still dreams of playing for Wales despite his latest setback. [more]

Peel still dreams of Wales

Lions tourist Dwayne Peel still dreams of playing for Wales despite his latest setback.

The man who wore the No9 shirt in all three Lions Tests against the All Blacks in 2005 has been a peripheral figure for his country in recent seasons.

The emergence of 2009 Lions Test star Mike Phillips has had a significant impact on Peel’s international career but his decision to play his rugby outside of Wales has played an equally important role.

Peel left the Scarlets for Sale Sharks back in 2008, since which time he has only made two starts for his country.

And while he remains Wales’ most-capped scrum-half, his chances of adding to his 74 international appearances this season appeared limited when he was not invited to a fitness testing session with the Welsh camp earlier this week.

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The fact that fellow English-based players Andy Powell and Gavin Henson were invited made that snub an even bigger blow for the 29-year-old but he insists he hasn’t given up hope of continuing his international career.

"I'd love to [play for Wales again]. It's always a dream for every Welshman to play for Wales,” admitted Peel.

"As much as I'm playing in England it doesn't make me any less of a Welshman.

"You should be able to represent your country whenever you should. It is disappointing and I'm not going to hide my disappointment.

"It's up to the selectors. I can't affect that really apart from performing on the pitch. I was pretty disappointed not to be involved in the squad, but that's out of my hands."

Despite not inviting him to the Vale of Glamorgan this week, Wales head coach Warren Gatland insists he hasn’t closed the door on Peel’s top-class future.

And with second-choice Wales scrum-half Richie Rees now having been suspended for 12 weeks after being found guilty of making contact with the eye area of Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley in a Heineken Cup match, Peel could yet force his way back into the reckoning for the clash with England on February 4.

"There is a way back for Dwayne absolutely…he is definitely not out of the frame," said Gatland.

"We look at all the games in France and England. We have been watching his games.

"But Dwayne has had injuries and wasn't even starting a lot of games for Sale. He hasn't had a run of games but played against Saracens the other day."

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