Autumn Internationals: Wales assistant Rob Howley backing Mike Phillips
Last Updated: 31/10/13 4:29pm
Mike Phillips: Could be centrally contracted by the WRU after being sacked by Bayonne
Rob Howley believes Mike Phillips should be targeting a place in Wales' squad for the 2015 World Cup.
Scrum-half Phillips is currently training with Wales ahead of next week's autumn series opener against South Africa.
The 31-year-old was sacked by Bayonne this week after allegedly turning up drunk at a players' video analysis session, but he could be offered a central contract by the Welsh Rugby Union.
"Looking forward over the next two years, we would like to think Mike Phillips will be available for World Cup 2015," said Wales assistant coach Howley.
"I think that is a realistic target for Mike, and for that to happen he needs to be playing at a club.
"There are always strengths and weaknesses of central contracts. The important void to fill is for Mike to play rugby. Whether that is in Wales, England or France, that his down to his agent and Mike.
"From our perspective, we want Mike to be playing week in, week out."
Howley has echoed head coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton in publicly backing Phillips, who has had a number of off-field problems during his career.
"It is up to Mike to get his own house in order and focus on what he needs to focus on in his preparation over the next nine days," added Howley.
"Mike Phillips is an outstanding player. He has been on two Lions tours, he has got experience and he is vital to our game.
"In saying that, you haven't got a divine right to wear that national jersey. We keep saying that to our players.
"I have communicated with Mike over the last three weeks, like we always do in and out of campaigns. I have got a huge amount of respect for Mike. He is a fantastic player.
"We can only judge him in our own environment. He will continue to perform at the highest level, that's what we expect of Mike.
"You have to act professionally on and off the field, and he has fallen short, hasn't he, on some occasions."