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Blues halfback hopes to be first choice again

Guinness PRO12 Editor

2 Mar 2010

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Richie Rees hopes his impressive performance on his first international start will see him retain the Wales No9 shirt for the Six Nations clash with Ireland in a fortnight’s time.

Rees made his senior Wales bow in the thrilling encounter with France last Friday and has since received plenty of plaudits for an accomplished all-round display.

Wales may have slipped to a narrow defeat in front of a packed-out Millennium Stadium but Rees himself enhanced his own reputation thanks to his crisp passing, his control around the base and a fully-committed defensive effort against a powerful French outfit.

"I really enjoyed the experience and felt it went okay personally," said Rees, who came off the bench in the previous games against England and Scotland.

"I would like to say I won the battle against (opposite number) Morgan Parra. But you never know if the fact I played the whole 80 minutes will mean anything for the Ireland game."

If Rees is to get the nod from Warren Gatland for the trip to Dublin, he knows he will have to fight off the challenge of two of the most respected scrum-halves in world rugby.

Fit-again Ospreys star Mike Phillips was an unused replacement against France having not played for his country since the 2009 Six Nations, while 2005 Grand Slam winner Dwayne Peel is also back in the Wales squad following a groin injury.

Such strength in depth could prove daunting for an international newcomer but Rees insists that competition for places is good for him as an individual and for the team as a whole.

"Mike is a world-class player coming back and there is Dwayne Peel as well so we will see how it goes. All I can do is concentrate on my game," added Rees.

"Mike wished me good luck before the game. We get on well and we both want what is good for the side. He has been out for a while but has given me fantastic support. And having him sitting on the bench spurs you on because you know you have to perform.

"It’s good for the squad when you have quality players on the bench. That will spur you on personally and it is good for the side."

Rees admits he would have loved to have marked his first start with a victory but he insists this Wales squad is not far away from achieving its potential.

And, like the rest of the country, Rees hopes the first step towards that goal will come at Croke Park on March 13.

"We’re a better side than results are suggesting. We have got some world-class players but it is not coming together at the moment.

"As a team we can always do better. We can’t give team head starts and we have to try and cut out the silly mistakes.

"I don’t think France really created much in the second-half and they seemed to be struggling fitness wise.

"It is another game we should have won but someone is in for a hiding. When we do that we are going to be up there with some of the best sides in the world.

"I don’t see why we can’t go out to Ireland and get the result."