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HomeSportsDan Biggar: Fly-half hopes Wales can repeat 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam

Dan Biggar: Fly-half hopes Wales can repeat 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam


Dan Biggar
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2017
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 13 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, S4C

Wales have been here before. A Six Nations starting with two scratchy wins, followed by a second-half surge to see off England, leaving them two victories away from a Grand Slam.

That was the situation Wales found themselves in 2019, and now once again this year.

When Wales face Italy in Rome on Saturday, among the players remaining from their triumphant 2019 campaign will be fly-half Dan Biggar.

Two years ago, Gareth Anscombe was the man entrusted to start in the fabled 10 shirt, with Biggar coming on to close games out.

As Anscombe is absent with a long-term injury, the 90-cap Biggar is now the starter with Callum Sheedy his second-half replacement.

The new dynamic has worked well so far, with the Northampton and Bristol fly-halves guiding Wales to wins over Ireland, Scotland and England.

Although Wales were unconvincing against Ireland and Scotland – both of whom had a man sent off – they were vastly improved in their victory over England.

Biggar created the opening try in the first half, before Sheedy excelled in the second as Wales motored from 24-24 at 65 minutes to a thumping 40-24 triumph.

“Callum has been very good. It does have similarities with 2019,” says Biggar.

“If we’re brutally honest we didn’t play that well in the opening two games of this campaign.

“It was the same a couple of years ago when we didn’t play well in the opening two games, but still got the results.

“In both years we’ve played well against England in the middle game and that set us up to do the job in 2019.”

There were several echoes of the 2019 encounter a fortnight ago, not least in Wales’ opening try.

Two years earlier, Biggar set Wales on their way to a pulsating win at the Principality Stadium with a pinpoint cross-field kick for Josh Adams to gather and touch down.

Biggar repeated the trick for Adams to score in this year’s meeting, though England’s players felt they had not been given enough time to get back into position after referee Pascal Gauzere had told their captain Owen Farrell to talk to his team about ill discipline.

“It’s one of those where if you were wearing a white shirt or support them, you were probably annoyed,” Biggar says.

“If you were wearing a red shirt, you’d probably not have seen anything wrong with it.

“The one thing I would say on it is when you look at the overhead image, England’s left edge on Jonny May’s side was all in position and ready to go.

“If I’d kicked it to Jonny’s side, he’d marked it and kicked it back 90 metres, would England be asking ‘Oh we’re all set now, you can take the kick at goal now?’ That’s the issue I would have.”

Dan Biggar (right) with Alun Wyn Jones
Dan Biggar (right) celebrates winning the Triple Crown with Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones after beating England

Regardless of England’s complaints about Adams’ try, Wales were ultimately comprehensive winners by 16 points.

That match was perhaps the best example yet of Biggar and Sheedy’s burgeoning combination; the former, 31, providing the big-match nous and experience to lay a solid foundation for his 25-year-old colleague to come on and orchestrate the Welsh attack in the closing stages.

“From Sheeds’ point of view he’s been excellent coming on and doing a job when he’s needed,” Biggar says.

“The three goals he kicked against England were big kicks. He held his nerve and delivered really well.

“We seem to complement each other well at the moment and we have Jarrod Evans in the squad as well. He’s an unbelievable player with ball in hand.

“We’re in a good position as a squad with those two young guys who are fresh, energised and chomping at the bit. Then you’ve got an old stager like myself who is hanging on and trying to guide the team around from the start!

“For Sheeds in particular he’s been excellent when he’s come on. He’s an excellent, grounded, level-headed kid who just wants to enjoy being in a team which is winning.

“When he came in in the autumn, we weren’t on a particularly great run and it’s nice for him to sample a taste of big matches.”

Wales’ winning start to this Six Nations has been in stark contrast to last year’s campaign, their worst since 2007 as they mustered just one victory over Italy.

Having lost seven of their first 10 Tests under head coach Wayne Pivac, Wales are now brimming with confidence as they travel to Rome.

Their base at the Vale Resort near Cardiff has been quieter than usual, as the coronavirus pandemic means the squad have the hotel to themselves.

And while lockdown has deprived the players of many hobbies and freedoms, Biggar’s wife has helped provide the team with some home comforts.

“My wife Alex was a primary school teacher before we had our little one. She gave that up to be a full-time mum but, in the meantime, she’s started doing some baking with things like cookies and other bits and pieces,” Biggar explains.

“Somehow they’ve managed to get into the team room for our days off!

“The ‘Covid Cafe’ is getting quite famous now. It’s the highlight of the week where we sit down in the conservatory of the hotel and have a coffee and a cake.

“We sit there for two or three hours and pretty much put the world to rights. We moan about everything!

“The boys are loving the cakes and at the moment we’re going all right off them, so hopefully we don’t slip up on Saturday.”


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