Tue 18 Jan 2022 | 10:12

Captaincy will make Biggar a better man

Captaincy will make Biggar a better man
Tue 18 Jan 2022 | 10:12
Captaincy will make Biggar a better man
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REACTION: Wales coach Wayne Pivac is confident the extra responsibility of captaincy will “add’ to the game of Dan Biggar, after he named the flyhalf as skipper for his side’s Six Nations title defence in place of the injured Alun Wyn Jones.

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Veteran lock Jones is one of several high-profile absentees, with fellow British and Irish Lions players George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi and Ken Owens all currently injured as well.

Ellis Jenkins stood in as captain for Jones, who has undergone two shoulder operations since being hurt during Wales’ year-end opener against New Zealand in October, late last year.

But with Wales now missing nearly 700 caps’ worth of experience, Pivac has turned to flyhalf Biggar, with the 32-year-old set to lead his country for the first time in their Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin on February 5.

As a No 10, Biggar already has a key decision-making role. He has also rarely been shy of a word for referees during the course of his 95-cap Wales career, even though it is only the captain who is permitted to speak to match officials during a game.

(Continue below …)

‘Speaks his mind’

“We’ve lost 680 caps [to injury] and that’s a lot of experience gone. Dan brings a wealth of experience,” Pivac told reporters after announcing a 36-man squad on Tuesday.

“The captain has to have a guaranteed position in the team bolted on. Dan, at the moment, is the form 10.”

As for the talkative approach of Biggar, who plays his club rugby in England for Northampton, the New Zealander added: “I think it’ll add to Dan’s game. It’s well-documented that Dan is a highly-motivated player, he’s very competitive and he speaks his mind.

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“We don’t want to change him as a competitive player. We want him to take on the role of captain. There’s not a lot of change for Dan, except he gets a little bit more leeway to speak to referees than he normally does.

“What we’ve got to do is make sure we use that to our advantage and the relationships are the ones that we need.”

Wales’ regional teams are still looking for a first win in European competition during a COVID-hit season and Pivac said: “Preparing this squad is going to be the most challenging for us to date.”

Both Ireland and France enjoyed what Pivac labelled “exceptional” wins over his native New Zealand late last year, with the Wales boss saying of the Irish: “They’re a team who can strangle you with the ball, they hold the ball for long periods of time so your defence has got to be up to speed and you’ve got to take your scoring opportunities when they come.”

Wales squad

Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff), Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Northampton/ENG, captain), Rhys Priestland (Cardiff), Callum Sheedy (Bristol/ENG), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Willis Halaholo (Cardiff), Nick Tompkins (Saracens/ENG), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Josh Adams (Cardiff), Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester/ENG), Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets)

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Forwards: Rhys Carre (Cardiff), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Gareth Thomas (Ospreys), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Dewi Lake (Ospreys), Bradley Roberts (Ulster/Ireland), Leon Brown (Dragons), Tomas Francis (Ospreys), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Ben Carter (Dragons), Seb Davies (Cardiff), Will Rowlands (Dragons), Christ Tshiunza (Exeter/ENG), Taine Basham (Dragons), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff), Jac Morgan (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), James Ratti (Cardiff), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons)

 

PV: 26
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