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Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 14:26 UK

Peel backed for Wales Test start

Dwayne Peel
Peel has started just once for Wales when Warren Gatland has been coach

Wales legend Gareth Edwards has backed Dwayne Peel to deputise for scrum-half Mike Phillips in Wales' autumn Tests.

Phillips could be out for up to 16 weeks with ankle ligament damage as Peel, Gareth Cooper and Martin Roberts line-up to come in for the Lions star.

Phillips replaced Sale Sharks star Peel as Wales scrum-half for their victorious 2008 Six Nations campaign.

"I'd like to think Dwayne Peel will relish the opportunity in Mike Phillips' absence," said Edwards.

Wales begin their four-match autumn Test campaign against the mighty All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 7 November.

BBC TWO Wales' Scrum V show will announce Warren Gatland's November international squad exclusively live on Sunday at 1900 BST.

Peel has dropped below Cardiff Blues new boy Cooper in Gatland's scrum-half pecking order as the 28-year-old has suffered niggling groin and hamstring injuries since moving to Sale from Llanelli Scarlets in the summer of 2008.

Gatland will have his Wales-based Welsh players for 13 days before the Cardiff clash with New Zealand after reaching a compromise agreement with Wales' four regions.

But as Peel plays in England with Sale, the Guinness Premiership side only have an obligation under International Rugby Board regulations to release him five days before the 7 November New Zealand showdown.

Gareth Edwards
Dwayne has nothing to prove as he has been an outstanding player for the Scarlets, Wales and the Lions

Wales legend Gareth Edwards

Some critics feel Peel may not make Gatland's squad at all but scrum-half legend Edwards feels he is the best back-up for Phillips and is "number one in the pecking order" behind the injured Ospreys star.

"I've always been a big fan of Dwayne Peel," former Wales captain Edwards told BBC Sport.

"Gareth Cooper hasn't quite found the form at the Blues he has shown over the last couple of years.

"Dwayne has had his injury problems but he is slowly coming back to form and is a class act.

"Dwayne has nothing to prove as he has been an outstanding player for the Scarlets, Wales and the Lions."

Edwards, regarded as arguably the greatest rugby player of all time, toured twice for the Lions on the victorious trips to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa in 1974.

Peel toured New Zealand for the Lions on Sir Clive Woodward's infamous 2005 tour and was one of few players to return from an All Black whitewash with their reputation enhanced.

Peel, who was initially omitted from last year's Six Nations squad before a late call, started in Wales' summer win over the United States when Phillips was touring with the Lions in South Africa.

But the double Grand Slam-winner's previous full international appearance was in Wales' 47-8 win over Italy in the 2008 Six Nations.

Peel impressed in his first two games back after a groin injury in Sale's opening two Heineken Cup pool games - including an influential display in the Sharks' European win over the Blues.

606: DEBATE
RyanShanks

Peel now hopes to win his 70th Wales cap this autumn as Gatland's team prepare to face New Zealand, Samoa, Argentina and Australia in Cardiff.

Newport Gwent Dragons scrum-half Wayne Evans, meanwhile, is an outside bet for Wales' autumn squad after impressing for the Rodney Parade region.

The 25-year-old has been an instrumental reason for the Dragons' positive start this term and he goes head-to-head with fellow Wales wannabe Roberts when Paul Turner's team face the Scarlets on Friday.

"There are a few scrum-halves out there at the moment," Evans told BBC Wales' Scrum V Radio show.

"It's up to however many there are to put there hand up this weekend to get in the Wales squad."



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see also
Phillips suffers Six Nations blow
23 Oct 09 |  Welsh
Byrne out of Wales autumn Tests
14 Oct 09 |  Welsh
Peel suffers groin injury setback
16 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Welsh rugby announces peace deal
08 Sep 09 |  Welsh
United States 15-48 Wales
06 Jun 09 |  Welsh
Peel to miss rest of Six Nations
10 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Sale's Peel out to impress Wales
26 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Peel may regret Sale move - Jones
20 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Wales omit Peel for Six Nations
19 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Peel set for Wales jersey battle
14 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Cooper gets Wales nod over Peel
05 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Wales 47-8 Italy
23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Sale Sharks finalise Peel signing
15 Feb 08 |  Sale
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Wales Online Warren Gatland has more concers after Stephen Jones pulls out - 53 mins ago
New Zealand Herald Leading Welsh players unavailable for All Blacks clash - 3 hrs ago
Clubcall Wales warned over scrum-half's recovery - 14 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Release ban rules Dwayne Peel out of Wales opener against New Zealand - 15 hrs ago
Manchester Evening News Sale prepare for international call ups - 48 hrs ago


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