THIS must surely be Rowland Phillips' most wonderful time of the year.

For it is at this point in December in many a year that an appearance is made by the picture of the former Warrington Wolves back rower or prop dressed in an angel costume placed at the top of the Christmas tree.

The picture of the duel-code Welsh international was specially set up to mark The Wire being top of the table at Christmas in 1993, the halfway point in rugby league's former winter season structure.

Warrington Guardian:

"We asked Rowland if he would pose for a picture to go on the back-page of that year's Warrington Guardian Christmas edition and the poor fella had no idea what he had let himself in for," said sports editor Mike Parsons.

"After being a little hesitant about dressing up, he understood the sense of achievement felt around town of the team being at the top of the table and embraced it. He probably took a lot of ribbing off his teammates when the paper came out. What a sport he was!"

Phillips joined The Wire in 1990, around the same time as fellow Welshmen Allan Bateman and Kevin Ellis.

He arrived from Neath RUFC and had gained 10 Welsh rugby union caps.

Phillips, now 55, found it difficult to deliver what was wanted from him at first after the switch of codes.

However he featured off the bench in the 1991 Regal Trophy Final victory over Bradford Northern at Headingley and became a crowd favourite for his powerful charges and offloading ability.

Warrington Guardian:

He stayed at Wilderspool until 1994 when he joined Workington Town, with whom he played in Super League in 1996 and went on to add a Great Britain cap to the Welsh rugby league ones he had achieved.

Eventually Phillips returned to South Wales and rugby union, where he has held numerous coaching positions.

He led Neath to four Premiership titles in successive years and three cup final wins.

And he took on the role as defence coach with the Ospreys and Wales.

After an unsuccessful season as head coach of Ebbw Vale in 2009 he ventured to Italy where he became head coach of Aironi. In 2012 he was appointed head coach of Viadana but headed home again two years later as director of rugby for Neath RFC.

That was followed by his appointment as manager of London Welsh.

He left his role as head coach of the Wales Women rugby union team, for whom his daughter Carys has made more than 50 appearances, earlier this year.