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."
Principality Stadium will host the UEFA Champions League Final in six weeks' time. WRU chairman Gareth Davies, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford and Ambassador Ian Rush joined young sports fans at the trophy arrival at the venue to celebrate the magnitude of the event on Saturday 3rd June (kick-off 19.45).
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.