Mike Phillips loss could aid Ospreys - Brynmor Williams

Scrum-half Mike Phillips
Brynmor Williams suggests that Mike Phillips' service is not quick enough

Wales half-back great Brynmor Williams believes the expected departure of Mike Phillips could benefit the Ospreys.

On Wednesday director of rugby Scott Johnson confirmed the Welsh region will let Wales scrum-half Phillips leave.

"The mood in the Ospreys camp has been for some weeks that they weren't that interested in retaining Mike Phillips' services," Williams told BBC Wales.

"It may be a change in style of play that is very much to the fore in Scott Johnson's mind."

Johnson said Phillips will be considered "on merit" for the remaining games of the season, but the 28-year-old has not even made the replacements bench for the Magners League match against Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday night.

Rhys Webb will start at scrum-half, with Tom Isaacs selected as the replacement number nine.

The Ospreys have won the Magners League three times since the competition launched in 2001-2, including winning last season's inaugural new style play-off Grand Final by beating Leinster 12-17 at the RDS.

But in the Heineken Cup the Ospreys have fallen short of expectations despite a squad studded with British and Irish Lions talent.

"They've tried to play in the last couple of years with the squad that they've got," Williams added.

"They've failed miserably, certainly from a Heineken Cup perspective, although they've done well in the Magners.

"I think there may be a strategic decision as well around the departure of Mike Phillips, if that actually happens, and that is that the Ospreys want to play differently.

"Especially with this World Cup year... they're not going to see these [Test] players and that's why they probably signed Kahn Fotuali'i, the Samoan number nine who plays for Crusaders.

"Rhys Webb is developing very well at the moment, so I would have thought that Scott Johnson feels that he's pretty seriously well equipped at nine at the moment whether Mike Phillips stays or not.

"He [Phillips] is an outstanding player, he plays like three men, I'm just wondering if the way the game is evolving that maybe his physical presence - he is a big guy with a very slow service - doesn't quite suit the style of play in the modern game any more.

"If a 16-and-a-half stone, 6ft 4in scrum-half was in vogue in the modern game I'm sure New Zealand, South Africa and Australia would have one by now.

"But they haven't, they've got much smaller versions who are quicker and can move in tight spaces in the face of some very well-organised defences."

James Hook, to Perpignan, and Lee Byrne, to Clermont Auvergne, will play in France next season, while their Wales team-mate Craig Mitchell will also depart for Exeter Chiefs.

Williams believes there could also be an element of cost-cutting underway at the Liberty Stadium after several seasons of heavy investment in the playing squad.

"I am shocked to hear that Mike wanted to leave there over the last 12 months and indeed Scott Johnson didn't sound terribly interested in the matter at all," Williams said.

"There seemed to be an underlying message that there was a business reason behind the fact that Mike Phillips is almost encouraged to leave, and that is that they're trying to control expenditure and what have you.

"That's the message that is coming through loud and clear that they are trimming their finances and attempting to introduce affordability into what they want to work with."

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