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Phillips keen to join the coach party as he plans for the future.

WALES legend Mike Phillips has revealed ambitions to get into coaching at the professional level, but accepts that it won't happen overnight.

Since retiring, the former scrum-half has been running the Mike Phillips Rugby Academy that aims to get youngsters into the game.

Phillips, who now lives in Dubai, has been back in Wales this summer running camps at rugby clubs all over the country as he looks to get kids involved in rugby.

And the experience that he has gained in running the academy, as well as spending time coaching senior rugby side Jebel Ali Dragons, could lead to him moving into coaching competitively.

"I played out in France and that was the first time I thought I could be a professional rugby coach," said Phillips, who has his level two coaching qualification through the WRU and is targeting his level three.

"It was very bizarre over there, particularly at my first club over there, Bayonne.

"I know it's slow process, I'm hoping to work with a school in Dubai this year and gain more experience. We'll see where we go from there.

"I know it takes time to become a great coach and you need to go through the levels and processes. I also think it helps to get different experiences.

"Right now, I'm happy to keep learning as I work with the youngsters and keep growing as a coach."

Whilst great players don't always make great coaches, Phillips is going about things the right way and he's in no rush.

But he has invaluable experience of the pressures placed on professional rugby players and what it takes to succeed at the top level, having earned 94 caps for Wales and played in five Test matches for the British and Irish Lions across the 2009 and 2013 tours.

He also knows what is required of a coach at that level.

"I've gone through a lot of different experiences - being on the bench, being a first team player," he explained. "I've got that understanding of what goes through players' minds.

"That's important as well. "Every player is an individual and over the years some coaches have been quite general and I don't think you can do that as a coach.

"But what you say to one person won't register with the next person. Everyone is wired differently. "At professional level it's about man management. The higher you go, it's about building up a player's confidence as much as coaching.

"We as Welsh people - I'm talking very generally here - I think lack a bit of confidence sometimes.

"It's making sure that we instil that confidence."

Phillips added: "Sometimes people make mistakes and there are personal reasons for it, maybe something is going on in the family.

"You've got to have a real empathy with the players.

"If someone does something or reacts in a certain way, there is normally a reason for it.

"So it's about finding out what that reason is. You need that understanding of people to be a good coach."

After months of travelling the length and breadth of the country, Phillips' summer tour of Wales comes to an end this weekend with his final camp being held at Nant Conwy RFC on Saturday.

Even if his work with the youngsters doesn't lead to something in the professional game, it's admirable stuff.

Phillips feels strongly about the survival of the grassroots game in Wales that gave him so much.

"The game has given me everything that I have today," he says. "If it wasn't for St Clears RFC and Whitland RFC, I wouldn't have played rugby and it wouldn't have given me a career and the chance to go around the world and have all the experiences that I've had.

"I don't want other kids to miss out.

"We can't all be A-star students and, for me, rugby was my pathway.

"In a selfish way, it's (the summer camps) just reminded me why I got into rugby. It's about having fun and making it enjoyable. "There are so many people in grassroots rugby across Wales who put so much effort in and I've seen it first hand over the summer.

"Seeing kids out there, getting off their games consoles, being active, having fun and being healthy is what it's all about.

"It's been a great experience."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 13, 2019
Words:724
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