Six Nations: Rhys Webb shocked and delighted by Wales call-up
Rhys Webb's career has gone the full circle in recent months, coming back from a serious injury to earn a Wales call-up.
Last Updated: 20/02/14 8:47pm
After a mixed start to 2014 Six Nations campaign - which has seen Wales beat Italy in Cardiff before enduring a 26-3 defeat to Ireland in Dublin - Warren Gatland surprisingly dropped scrum-half Phillips in favour of the Ospreys No 9.
Less than nine months ago, Webb was undergoing surgery for a cruciate knee ligament injury but returned to action in November, two months ahead of schedule.
In a dramatic turnaround, Webb will now make his first Wales start on Friday after seizing the scrum-half berth from two-time British and Irish Lion Phillips, who is forced to watch from the bench as Wales host France.
"I definitely didn't see this happening when I picked up the injury," Webb said.
"I had a timescale that I would be back the end of January. Fair play to the physios and conditioning staff at the Ospreys for getting me back earlier and enabling me to get a good run of games in.
"I've put in a lot of work for this and I'm really glad to be here now. It's very special. My phone has been going mad and I just can't wait to get out there on Friday.
"My friends and family have been massive to me through tough times with my injuries and stood by me. It's going to be great to see them there, singing the anthem. It will be a dream come true, really."
For Webb to be selected ahead of Phillips is one thing, but to do so after such a long injury lay-off is testament to the 25-year-old's form and the Bridgend-born back is delighted to be involved from the off, having made four substitute appearances.
"As a kid, all you want to do is play for your country," Webb added. "Obviously, I've had a taste of it coming off the bench, but to actually get the start now is really special.
"Hearing the news I was starting was awesome. It's something I've always wanted to do.
"Mike has been there a long time and he is a world-class player. We get on well off the pitch. He congratulated me and just told me to enjoy it."
Webb acknowledged the grace displayed by Phillips as he took the news and admits he is now aiming to emulate the 82-cap international.
"He's been pretty good, fair play to him," he said. "I know it's probably tough. He probably didn't expect it, but there you go.
"I know he has had 80-odd caps, but to be honest I don't really care about things like that. I just want to get there and get the jersey and do the best I can for the team. Hopefully, one day I can get as many caps as he has.
"I see myself as a runner and trying to get away from these big guys and creating space for the backs. I am just going to play my natural game and play what's on, but it's going to be a matter of control as well."