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Phillips vows to prove his value

Mike Phillips is ready to lead from the front when he reclaims Wales' number nine shirt against Samoa on Friday night.

Phillips' demotion to bench duty ahead of Wales facing Argentina last weekend caused many raised eyebrows as interim head coach Rob Howley opted for inexperienced Scarlets scrum-half Tavis Knoyle instead.

Bayonne-based Phillips' inability to attend a pre-autumn Tests training camp in Poland because of club commitments was an undoubted factor behind Knoyle starting and the 30-year-old winning his 69th cap as a replacement.

It was only the second time in 38 appearances since the 2008 Six Nations Championship that Phillips had not started for Wales.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't go to Poland, so preparation wasn't great for me for last week's game," he said.

"I didn't go to Poland, where a lot of work was done, so I guess maybe it (not being picked to start against Argentina) was a possibility.

"But whenever I wear the jersey, I am going to give absolutely everything. People know that.

"There is always pressure, but you have just got to play your role and give it everything.

"I am an experienced player who has been in the Wales squad for a number of years now. I know the way in which we are going to play and I know the management team very well."

Phillips, wing George North, centre Jamie Roberts, prop Paul James and number eight Toby Faletau are the only players who started last year's punishing World Cup pool clash against Samoa in New Zealand that will run out for kick-off at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow.

And with Wales' past two victories over the South Sea Islanders being by a combined total of only 11 points, Phillips knows a rigorous evening's work awaits.

"It is another tough game against a top side," he added. "I thought they were great in the World Cup last year and were a bit unlucky at times.

"It is going to be an extremely physical game, we know that. They are going to come out gunning for us.

"The physical element is there with Samoa - it was a tough game in the World Cup last year.

"They have some great players, genuine (side) steppers who can off-load, so they are a major treat. They turned Australia over last year, and we will give them massive respect, but we've got to take it to them.

"We've got to put the basics right this week and make sure we go out there with heart, spirit and aggression - those basic things you need at any level of rugby to get a performance and get a win.

"It was a bit flat (against Argentina), wasn't it? I think we could all see that. Maybe we have been slow starters throughout the years, with the first game of the autumn. International rugby is a different intensity.

"But it is out of the way now, so hopefully we can push on and improve."