Wales’ Old New Boy Rhys Webb Follows The Messi And Ronaldo Creed . . . If You’re Good Enough, You’re Young Enough

Rhys Webb of the Ospreys. Pic: Getty Images.

Wales’ Old New Boy Rhys Webb Follows The Messi And Ronaldo Creed . . . If You’re Good Enough, You’re Young Enough

By Paul Jones

Rhys Webb has taken inspiration from football greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo after ending more than two years in the international rugby wilderness.

Ospreys scrum-half Webb is on course to make his first Wales appearance since November 2020 in next Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Webb, who toured New Zealand with the 2017 British and Irish Lions, featured on just five occasions during Wayne Pivac’s 34-Test reign as Wales head coach.

But with Warren Gatland now back at the helm, 34-year-old Webb is once again battling for a Test spot as part of Wales’ Six Nations squad.

“It has obviously been a long time out of the international set-up, and it is an absolute joy to be back,” Webb said.

“It’s like when I first got called up in 2012 with the goose-bumps. The feeling has all come back to me, and I am just loving every day being in camp with the boys.

“I am a competitor and believe in myself and my ability. I never once wrote it off.

“I am obviously over the moon and delighted to be back, but for me personally this is where I feel I belong.

“I have still got that fire in my belly, and every time I put that Welsh jersey on it fills me with pride.”

Wales’ Rhys Webb. Pic: Getty Images.

Webb is among a number of seasoned campaigners in the Wales squad, with his 36-cap international career spread over the last 10 years.

And he looks set to have a key Six Nations role alongside the likes of fellow thirtysomethings like Dan Biggar, Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.

“We know we can’t go on forever but we know what we need to do for our bodies to be in the best possible way and thrive in international rugby,” Webb added.

“It is credit to the boys for keeping themselves fit and healthy for a long time.

“For me personally, I look at the football boys like Ronaldo and Messi, who are still playing in World Cups at 37 and 35. If they can do it, we can do it.

“I’ve got a young family around me and seeing them enjoy themselves at the games is the reason why I play and makes me happy,” added Webb.

“My eldest one is 12 so he’s been with me along the way. The younger two not so much.

“I’m glad this has happened because the amount of questions they’ve asked me about why I haven’t been involved with Wales started to become a little bit too much! It’s nice to say I’m finally back in the mix.”

Rhys Webb Feels Hurt In More Ways Than One . . . But He’s A Victim Worth Sacrificing

Despite being largely overlooked during the Pivac era, Webb has maintained consistent Ospreys form and now contests the Wales number nine shirt with Tomos Williams and Kieran Hardy.

“You are obviously disappointed at the time, but I have never let it get to me,” Webb said, on his absence from the international scene.

“Even when I am not picked in the Welsh squad I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world, playing rugby.

“The Ospreys pay my wages, so I have to go out there and perform. Playing is a release for me, and that is what I do best.

“It has been a disappointment not to make squads, but I have been enjoying myself playing week in, week out, and now to be back is great.”

Webb missed the 2015 World Cup tournament because of a knee injury suffered in the final warm-up game against Italy.

Four years later he was ineligible for selection after signing for Toulon, because of the Welsh Rugby Union’s 60-cap selection rule.

Wales do not select players with fewer than 60 caps who play outside the country. Webb was the first high-profile casualty after the policy was introduced in 2017.

Now he could have his final chance to play in a global tournament in France later this year.

“I’m not looking that far ahead,” said Webb.

“In 2015, I probably had the opportunity to be the number one nine going into that tournament, but injuries happen in professional sport.

“That was disappointing at the time but I went on to represent the Lions then.

“It would be an incredible honour to represent Wales at a World Cup, but it’s not something in my mind at the moment.

“I’ve been out of the environment so long I’m enjoying campaign by campaign.

“If I concentrate on the here and now that’s when I play my best rugby, rather than looking too far ahead.”

Webb believes he is a better player now than when he made his international debut in 2012.

“Some people would tell you different, but I feel better now than when I first came into the system,” added Webb.

“I’ve been away to France, come back, and the strength and conditioning guys at the Ospreys have helped me.

“I definitely feel a more complete player. I feel fast, sharp and in a good place.”


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