Dwayne Peel rejects Wales claim of injury problems

Dwayne Peel
Scrum-half Dwayne Peel last started a match for Wales in November 2009

Dwayne Peel says he is fully fit, contradicting claims by Wales that injury has forced the scrum-half out of their World Cup plans.

Wales attack coach Robert Howley said on Friday that Peel is suffering from a ruptured finger and a hip injury.

But 29-year-old Peel says he has been in full contact training with Sale since the end of July.

"I had a finger injury at the start of pre-season, the first week in June, but I'm fine now," Peel said.

"I got cleared by the surgeon to play and to have full contact at the end of July so I'm fine, good to go."

Peel was barred from joining Wales' World Cup training camps in July as his club followed the English Premiership line of refusing to release Welsh players until 4 August.

That date was the beginning of the official window whereby International Rugby Board rules state that all clubs must release players for international duty ahead of the sport's showpiece tournament, which starts on 9 September in New Zealand.

Wales-based players were made available under the agreement between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Peel had been tipped to be called up by Wales last week to join preparations for the second warm-up game against England and this Saturday's match with Argentina.

Howley, though, claimed the 76-capped scrum-half was injured - an assertion that has drawn a puzzled response from the player and his club, who plan to use him in Friday's friendly with Edinburgh.

"The fact of the matter is this - he broke his finger in late May, he's been available [for training] since July and he's as fit as a butcher's dog," said Sale executive director of sport Steve Diamond.

"So the reason they've not picked him is not on his injury status, it's on their selection policy."

Mike Phillips, the number one choice at scrum-half under Warren Gatland, started both games against England, while 21-year-old Tavis Knoyle will win his fifth cap on Saturday against Argentina.

And when asked of Peel's absence, Gatland suggested the chances are slim for the British & Irish Lion to regain his place.

"We've got two youngsters who have impressed us hugely by the way they've trained," said Gatland.

"Tavis and Lloyd [Williams] are probably two of the fittest guys we've got in the squad.

"It's just been difficult for Dwayne. The last few years when we have had him involved he's unfortunately had a lot of injuries.

"He hasn't always been available to us because [he was] not being released by Premier Rugby and that's been difficult at times.

"And even in pre-season he was in a splint and had a slight problem with his hip, so he hadn't taken a full part in training sessions.

"Rob Howley has spoken to him on a couple of occasions. We know what a quality player he is but it has been difficult for us to include him because he hasn't been available."

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