Mike confident Wales can win
10:27am Wednesday 6th February 2013 in Sport
Despite suffering a bitterly disappointing defeat at the hands of Ireland, Mike Phillips still believes Wales can win in France this Saturday.
Phillips started alongside Jonathan Davies against Ireland, both are former Whitland products, with a third former Borderer Scott Williams an unused substitute for the Welsh.
World class centre Brian O’Driscoll, probably playing his last game for Ireland in Cardiff, inspired his side to race into an impressive 30-3 lead just after half-time.
Tries by Simon Zebo, Cian Healy and O’Driscoll put the Irish in the driving seat. But a stirring fightback by Wales with cracking tries from Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell put them right back in the mix, before finally running out of steam as the champions lost out.
Wales now have three tough away matches where they face France, Italy and Scotland before taking on England at home in the last match.
But next up is France, who also lost in Italy on Sunday, and Phillips is convinced they are there for the taking.
“The confidence is still there — we’re still the champions and that means something,” said Phillips.
“France are a good side so it’s going to be immensely tough.
But we’ve got to go there with belief and play some rugby.
“We’ve got to cut the mistakes out and the penalties out and have the belief.”
France are set to be without captain Pascal Papé this weekend after he was forced off in the defeat to Italy with a back problem.
Toulouse wing and regular try scorer Vincent Clerc will also be absent while Wales could be boosted by the return of two key men from the Ospreys.
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards also feels optimistic.
Edwards said: “We are a bit healthier than we were last week. Ryan Jones and Richard Hibbard should both be available.”
It’s never easy in Paris and Edwards admits it still going to be a tough test against Saint- André’s team.
“They are very, very strong and I’m sure someone of equal ability will come in,” he said.
“We need to go to France with our A game for the full 80 minutes.
“Every person in modern rugby has to be a leader. We have to come out and meet passion with passion.”