World Cup 2015: Mike Phillips faces battle to make Wales squad

Mike Phillips in training with Wales
Mike Phillips has scored nine tries for Wales since making his debut in 2003
Rugby World Cup warm-up: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Kick-off: 14:30 BST, 8 August
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

Mike Phillips will have to fight it out for a place in the Wales squad for the World Cup, according to Rob Howley.

The Racing 92 scrum-half is in the team to face Ireland in a World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff.

But with Ospreys' Rhys Webb firmly established as first choice, Phillips, Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams face a battle to join him in the squad.

"You can say firmly Rhys Webb is the stand-out nine, he's been outstanding," said Wales attack coach Howley.

"With the other three nines it's a competition and it's an equal competition.

"Mike has got a great opportunity and he knows he's under pressure - they're all under pressure to perform."

Wales are due to reduce their squad from 47 to 36 or 38 after the Ireland game, and announce their final squad of 31 on 31 August.

Gareth Davies and Rhys Webb in training for Wales
Gareth Davies (left) was on the bench when Rhys Webb (right) started for Wales against Italy in their last international

Phillips is Wales' most capped scrum-half having made 93 appearances.

However, he has not started an international since the 17-13 win over Fiji in Cardiff in November 2014 following the emergence of Webb.

And he failed to make the 23-man squad for the final game of the 2015 Six Nations against Italy when Scarlet number nine Davies made a second-half appearance off the bench.

Phillips has acknowledged that he has something to prove against Ireland.

"I'm sure some players are nailed-on. I'm probably one of those that has to impress in these games," he said.

"Any opportunity you get on the field, you've got to impress and that's what these games are all about."

Howley, who played 59 times at scrum-half for Wales between 1996 and 2002, believes the experience of Phillips and his half-back partner James Hook could be crucial against Ireland.

"It's great to have the experience at nine and 10," he added.

"Hopefully they'll be able to control and game manage the game as they see fit and that's the key at the weekend.

"For Mike it's about control and accuracy when the ball is there, so we are able to play a high-octane game and at pace and back our fitness.

"We need our nine getting to the breakdown quickly getting the ball away accurately so we can move onto the next phase."

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