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Warren Gatland's Wales boost for Dwayne Peel

Dwayne Peel
Peel in his last Six Nations appearance against Italy in 2010

Dwayne Peel has been reassured by Wales coach Warren Gatland that he still has an international future despite him being overlooked in the autumn Tests.

The 2005 British and Irish Lions scrum-half may be recalled by Gatland for the Six Nations as Richie Rees will miss the tournament with a 12-week ban.

"At the moment it doesn't look as I'm in the frame," Sale star Peel said.

But Gatland insisted: "There is a way back for Dwayne absolutely...he is definitely not out of the frame."

Rees has been suspended until 31 March by an European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing.

The Cardiff Blues number nine was found guilty of making contact with Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley's eye during their 23-19 Heineken Cup pool defeat on 19 December.

Rees has moved above Peel to become Gatland's back-up scrum-half behind British and Irish Lions star Mike Phillips for Wales.

But now Peel hopes to benefit as he battles with Scarlets rookie Tavis Knoyle and uncapped Dragons scrum-half Wayne Evans to get in Gatland's Six Nations squad.

Peel, who joined Sale Sharks from the Scarlets in 2008, has not been helped by leaving Wales at a time when Gatland said he would consider only Wales-based players.

In the last three Six Nations Championships, Peel has only made one start - before being left out of the autumn international series.

"I was pretty disappointed not to be involved in the squad, but that's out of my hands" said 74-cap Peel, who was not selected for Wales' pre-Six Nations fitness tests this week when fellow English-based players Gavin Henson and Andy Powell were.

I just think we cannot afford to without players of the calibre of Dwayne Peel so bury the hatchet of him playing in England

Wales legend Phil Bennett

"I'd love to [play for Wales again]. It's always a dream for every Welshman to play for Wales. As much as I'm playing in England it doesn't make me any less of a Welshman.

"You should be able to represent your country whenever you should. It is disappointing and I'm not going to hide my disappointment."

But Gatland told Peel, a 2005 Grand Slam winner, that he is still on Wales' radar.

"We look at all the games in France and England," said the coach.

"We have been watching his games. But Dwayne has had injuries and wasn't even starting a lot of games for Sale. He hasn't had a run of game but played against Saracens the other day."

Peel said if he was selected in the near future then he would "give it my all again."

"It's up to the selectors. I can't affect that really apart from performing on the pitch," he added.

And Wales fly-half legend Phil Bennett has told Gatland to "bury the hatchet" and pick English-based players like Peel.

"I cannot believe he wasn't asked down for Wales testing," Bennett told BBC Radio Wales' Scrum V show.

"It was only two or three years ago that people were saying Dwayne Peel was in the top three of world-class scrum-halves when he was playing the best rugby of his life.

"He has been pure class in a struggling Sale side.

"Looking at the Welsh scrum-halves obviously Mike Phillips is number one but Dwayne Peel has the experience and we must be a lucky nation if we can afford to be without Dwayne Peel.

"And what if Mike Phillips gets injured? We have Tavis Knoyle who is an immense talent but is still young and still learning the game.

"What we need is someone to come who we are very confident with. We need a Dwayne Peel.

"If he is available for Wales, like the rest of the other boys, let him be selected. It would be a huge surprise if he [Gatland] doesn't pick Peel."

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see also
Peel signs new two-year Sale deal
29 Jan 10 |  Sale
Wales deny Peel selection issue
25 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Peel uncertain over rugby future
15 Jan 10 |  Sale

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