Mike Phillips has be tipped to reach new heights in the 2012-13 season
Wales great Terry Holmes reckons Mike Phillips will storm back to his best form in the new season.
Phillips, who moved to Bayonne last summer, failed to hit his usual heights on the recent tour to Australia, where Wales fell to a heartbreaking 3-0 series whitewash.
But Holmes, who won 25-caps for Wales, expects the former Ospreys star to shake off the criticism and raise his game to new heights in time for the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour.
"I would expect him to be the Lions scrum-half in the Tests next summer," Holmes told the South Wales Evening Post.
"It's been a difficult year for him with his move to France and having to settle in a strange environment.
"And there is bound to be a lot of competition for the jersey next summer because it's a Lions tour and everyone wants to feature in the Tests.
"But when Mike Phillips is at his best he is world class, a player you'd want on your side every time, and I am expecting him to work at his game and have a big season.
"Certainly, Wales are not the same side without him. He adds an edge, a drive to the side with his will to win and his physicality.
"He still has some way to go to rediscover his best form. He did some good things in Australia but he wasn't at the level of 2009 in South Africa when he was at his absolute peak.
"He wasn't the official man of the series but I think it's a fair call if anyone suggests he should have been.
"Mike will know that he has to get back to that level this season."
The first task for Phillips will be to hold off the stiff challenge of Rhys Webb and Lloyd Williams in the Welsh camp.
But he could also face a challenge from Dwyane Peel, the Lions Test scrum-half in 2005, who has fallen down the international pecking order in recent seasons.
And he reckons the fierce competition at scrum-half will only be beneficial for the players in question.
"I haven't seen enough of Dwayne of late to say where he is with his game," said Holmes.
"But I think the Wales selectors largely pick on form.
"Dwayne's problem is that it is very competitive at the moment. Wales don't just have Mike Phillips; they have Rhys Webb and Lloyd Williams as well, two excellent young scrum-halves who are only going to get better.
"But we all know what Dwayne can do at his best. If he can find the form he had in 2005, we will have a massive battle on our hands for the Wales shirt."
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.