sport

Webb relishing Wales start

Rhys Webb will have a tough act to follow when he runs out for his first Wales start in Friday night's Six Nations clash against France.

The Ospreys scrum-half is the latest name on a sporting roll of honour at Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend that would hold its own in any company.

And Webb's former school have not forgotten him either, with a note from his ex-headmaster among the congratulatory messages he received this week at Wales' training base.

Webb will aim to fill the considerable boots of 82 times-capped double Grand Slam winner Mike Phillips on Friday, and if he needs inspiration then it is available through some of his fellow Brynteg past pupils.

Wales rugby internationals JPR Williams, Rob Howley, Mike Hall, Gavin Henson and Dafydd James are all Brynteg old boys, while it was also the school attended by British Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke.

"There's a lot of internationals come from there," Webb said. "I think it's five or six British Lions as well. It is a pretty special school, really.

"You would be sitting in assembly and they have a wall of honour showing all the internationals. You would just look at that and think one day you will be there.

"That has helped me along the way, and hopefully I can get on the board one day.

"You've got the likes of Gavin Henson, JPR Williams and Rob Howley up there. The names are special. They are legends in the game, so it just drives you on.

"I am not quite sure if I'm up there yet. Obviously, the British Lions are the ones at the top, but hopefully I can get on there now.

"I've been back to school a couple of times to see the teachers, and there are a few there that helped me along the way. I had a letter through the door of my hotel room off my headmaster this week, so it's good to see they are still thinking of me."

Webb, 25, suffered a serious knee injury last year that sidelined him for six months, but after four Wales appearances off the bench, he now steps up as the starting number nine.

And he has been quick to acknowledge his experiences at the Ospreys, where a succession of top scrum-halves like New Zealander Justin Marshall and Samoan Kahn Fotuali'i have helped him progress.

"There have been a lot of world-class scrum-halves come along during my time there - the likes of Jason Spice, Justin Marshall, Ricky Januarie, Kahn Fotuali'i and Mike (Phillips)," he added.

"One goes, and you think here is a chance for you, but then they bring in another top-quality nine. It just makes you work twice as hard to get hold of that jersey.

"I picked up bits off all of them and tried to add them to my game.

"I was a big fan of Justin Marshall. He was my idol when I was growing up. He was a bit of a runner with the ball as well, and it was great to be involved with him at the Ospreys."