By Paul Morgan
DWAYNE PEEL’S hopes of finally getting back in the Wales squad have been boosted; by both Wales coach Warren Gatland and one of the country’s best players, Phil Bennett. Sale Shark Peel was overlooked by Wales in November, but that looks likely to change for the Six Nations, especially as Richie Rees has been banned for the tournament. “We have been watching his games. But Dwayne has had injuries and wasn’t even starting a lot of games for Sale. He hasn’t had a run of game but played against Saracens the other day,” said Gatland.
“We look at all the games in France and England.”
Peel was outstanding in that clash with Saracens and while Mike Phillips remains No 1 if there is a better Wales scrum-half than Peel (other than Phillips) I haven’t seen him.
The lack of a deal between England’s top clubs and the WRU makes the selection of Peel harder. For the Six Nations he, and Andy Powell, won’t be able to join up with the Wales squad until the Sunday before they play England (on the Friday). But legend Bennett believes it is time to welcome them back.
“I cannot believe he wasn’t asked down for Wales testing,” Bennett told BBC Radio Wales’ Scrum V show.
“It was only two or three years ago that people were saying Dwayne Peel was in the top three of world-class scrum-halves when he was playing the best rugby of his life.
“He has been pure class in a struggling Sale side.
“Looking at the Welsh scrum-halves obviously Mike Phillips is number one but Dwayne Peel has the experience and we must be a lucky nation if we can afford to be without Dwayne Peel.
“And what if Mike Phillips gets injured? We have Tavis Knoyle who is an immense talent but is still young and still learning the game.
“What we need is someone to come who we are very confident with. We need a Dwayne Peel.
“I just think we cannot afford to without players of the calibre of Dwayne Peel so bury the hatchet of him playing in England.
“If he is available for Wales, like the rest of the other boys, let him be selected. It would be a huge surprise if he [Gatland] doesn’t pick Peel.”