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Mike Phillips backing new Wales scrum-half Tavis Knoyle

Tavis Knoyle (left) in training with Lee Byrne in New Zealand
Tavis Knoyle (left) in training with Lee Byrne in New Zealand

Scrum-half Mike Phillips says he will help uncapped Tavis Knoyle realise his potential on Wales' New Zealand tour.

"I always took it as a great compliment when I was compared to Terry Holmes," said the British & Irish Lions star.

"It's just as much a compliment now to hear people talking about Tavis as a player in the mould of Mike Phillips.

"I've proven I can be one of the best in the world and that is the challenge facing Tavis in the years to come, but I'll be there to help him if I can."

Scrum-halves Dwayne Peel and Gareth Cooper were ruled out of the tour by injury and Knoyle - who turned 20 on 2 June - has now risen above team-mate Martin Roberts for both region and country.

The outstanding Tavis Knoyle crosses for the Scarlets' second try as they race to a 15-3 half-time lead

Archive, March 2010: Scrum V impressed with man-of-the-match Knoyle

That leaves the 6ft 1ins, 15st 12lbs Glynneath youngster competing with Phillips and Richie Rees for the Wales jersey, Dragons scrum-half Wayne Evans not included in coach Warren Gatland's selectorial thinking.

Phillips will be expected to start Wales' two games on tour, Test matches against the All Blacks on 19 and 26 June.

"Mike Phillips has been my favourite player, I've played against him, he's been my idol and he's the player I've always looked at and wanted to be like," said Knoyle.

"I've got the greatest respect for him and I've got to try and nick some things from him and concentrate.

"He's a great player and playing alongside someone like him will be fantastic."

Knoyle played his youth rugby for Glynneath and has impressed for Wales at Under-20, U18 and U16 levels.

Archive, May 2009: 'Awesome' year for young scrum-half

Having graduated to the Neath side he was wanted by the Ospreys, with rumoured interest also coming from Leicester and Harlequins.

But he chose to join the Scarlets on a two-year deal last summer, coach Nigel Davies saying at the time that he was "as excited about Tavis as I was about Dwayne Peel and Mike Phillips at 18".

Phillips said of Knoyle: "He's quick and strong and pretty self confident and he needs to hold onto that in particular, he is a real prospect and I'll do everything I can to help him come through.

"I'll be saying to Tavis and the others that they have to continue to believe in themselves, Warren Gatland does, that's why they are here and he's proved over many years that he's a pretty good judge of these things."

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see also
Phillips determined before Tests
11 Jun 10 |  Welsh
New Zealand 66-28 Ireland
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales excited by new-boy Knoyle
17 May 10 |  Welsh
Gatland considers 50-strong list
30 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Neath teen Knoyle joins Scarlets
22 May 09 |  Welsh
Wales' NZ tour in photos
26 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Country profile: New Zealand
28 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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