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Peel 'wants All Blacks challenge'

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

Dwayne Peel has told coach Warren Gatland he is desperate to face the All Blacks as the Wales scrum-half is at the centre of a club v country battle.

New Zealand visit Cardiff on 7 November but the match is outside the designated international window so Sale Sharks are under no obligation to release Peel.

The 28-year-old was in line to replace injured Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips.

"Dwayne is desperate to be involved for the All Blacks game and is particularly frustrated," said Wales coach Gatland.

The Welsh Rugby Union are continuing negotiations with Premier Rugby - the umbrella body that looks after England's Guinness Premiership clubs - in a bid to release Peel to win his 70th Welsh cap against mighty New Zealand.

Sale are due to play Welsh region Newport Gwent Dragons in the first round of Anglo Welsh Cup fixtures on 6 November but could strike a deal with the WRU - but that may upset the deal between England's clubs and union.

Gareth Cooper stands by as the experienced Cardiff Blues scrum-half could deputise to win his 43rd cap at number nine as Wales prepare to be without ankle ligament injury victim Phillips and an unavailable Peel.

"At this stage Dwayne is not available," Gatland confirmed.

Wales coach Warren Gatland
If Sale or Premier Rugby decide to release him, there is a possibility he will be part of the 22 for the All Blacks game

Wales coach Warren Gatland

"We can have him for three days training next week but we're not sure whether he will be involved for Sale against the Dragons.

"I've spoken to Dwayne and he is desperately keen to play against the All Blacks.

"If Sale or Premier Rugby decide to release him, there is a possibility he will be part of the 22 for the All Blacks game.

"But we're preparing for him not to be available - but we are always hopeful."

Peel was set to win just his second Wales start in 18 months against the All Blacks but this administrative blow could wreck his Wales dream.

Wales' autumn international training camp began on Monday, giving the management team the 13 days they demanded before the Saturday, 7 November New Zealand game in a hard-fought agreement between the WRU and the four Welsh regions.

Peel, though, will only arrive at Wales training HQ next week and Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde pointed-out: "It's hard to pick players not training here."

The former Scarlets scrum-half, however, will be in camp in plenty of time for the matches against Samoa, Argentina and Australia, who follow the All Blacks to the Millennium Stadium on successive weekends in November.

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But Wales first host a misfiring New Zealand team in the hope of defeating them for the first time since 1953.

Peel, the double-Grand Slam winner and 2005 Lions star, was the only foreign-based exile in Gatland's 29-man Autumn Test squad as he overlooked Gloucester's Gareth Delve and Nicky Robinson, Sale's Lee Thomas and Eifion Roberts, Harlequins' Ceri Jones and Wasps' Warren Fury and Ben Broster, plus French exiles Alix Popham (Brive) and Jamie Robinson (Toulon).

Former Wales captain Ieuan Evans hopes a deal can still be done, but that is thought to be unlikely as Premier Rugby Limited - the body representing England's top clubs - does not want to upset its hard-won agreements over player release.

"We haven't beaten the All Blacks since 1953, we've got an opportunity to go on and take this," Evans told BBC Sport Wales.

"We don't want to rule out immediately players who can fill [the key] roles.

"We don't know what's going on behind the scenes with regard to these players."

Gatland has stressed that players plying their trade in Wales will be favoured when it comes to national selection.



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