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Gatland happy to call on an experienced Lion

Gatland happy to call on an experienced Lion

Warren Gatland believes the experience of British & Irish Lion Mike Phillips will help Wales digest the loss of two of their key playmakers in Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland believes the experience of British & Irish Lion Mike Phillips will help Wales digest the loss of two of their key playmakers in Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Full-back Halfpenny, who was instrumental in the Lions’ tour victory in Australia two years ago, suffered a knee injury in Wales’ warm-up clash with Italy and has been replaced in the squad by Ospreys wing Eli Walker.

Webb damaged his ankle in the same game for Wales and Gatland has opted to call up Phillips, a veteran with two Lions tours and 94 Wales caps under his belt, as scrum-half cover.

The double loss is a tough blow for Wales – who are paired with England, Australia, Uruguay and Fiji in Pool A – but Gatland is not too downhearted.

And Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: "It is extremely disappointing for both Leigh and Rhys.

"They have worked exceptionally hard to establish themselves on the world stage and to prepare for the tournament and we wish them all the best with their recovery.

"After announcing the squad we spoke about the need for players to remain ready for action and it is a great opportunity for Mike and Eli.

"It's great that we can call on players of this calibre. To bring Mike's experience into the squad is a bonus along with Eli's exciting talent."

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