One of the biggest questions surrounding Wales’ squad selection for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations was who would lead the team? The answer: Dan Biggar.
The news that the fly-half would take the armband in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones came as a surprise to some, especially as Biggar has never skippered his country before.
Jonathan Davies and Ellis Jenkins were the men entrusted with the honour during the Autumn Nations Series, with the latter leading Wales to victories over Fiji and Australia.
But while it may look like a left-field pick from Wayne Pivac at first glance, the selection of Biggar actually makes a lot of sense as Wales look to defend their Championship crown.
Firstly, the 32-year-old has the experience necessary to fulfil the demands of the role.
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Wales are without 680 caps worth of experience due to injuries, with Jones, Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Leigh Halfpenny and George North among those unavailable.
In fact, it is the first time since 2006 that Wales have named a Championship squad which doesn’t feature Jones, who guided his country to a sixth title since 2005 last year.
That is a significant, talismanic void to fill but in Biggar, Wales have a ready-made replacement who has been an ever-present member of their Championship squads since 2013.
He has 95 caps for Wales to date and will bring up his century in their Super Saturday fixture against Italy in Round 5 as long as he plays every game in this year’s campaign.
Another important tick in Biggar’s column is that his position is not under threat, having been the go-to No.10 for Pivac during his reign – a point emphasised by the Wales head coach.
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“We have lost 680 caps so that’s a lot of experience gone,” said Pivac.
“Dan brings a wealth of experience, a wealth of experience in this competition. Also, we’re looking at form, we’re looking at players that are competing in different positions.
“The captain has to have a guaranteed, bolted-on position in the team and we think that Dan at the moment is the form 10 and in the other positions there’s a lot of competition.”
Jenkins faces competition for the No.6 jersey from Ross Moriarty among others while Davies is no longer assured a place in the midfield and missed out against Australia in November.
Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Priestland and Callum Sheedy will keep Biggar on his toes but for the time being at least, there is no doubting who will be Wales’ starting fly-half.
Beyond that, Biggar also brings a number of other useful qualities to the table as skipper.
A gentleman off the field and an absolute warrior on it, Biggar’s competitive edge is always on full display every time he represents Wales as shown by the way he throws himself into tackles.
He’s a winner who wears his heart on his sleeve and is never afraid of putting his viewpoint across to referees over the 80 minutes – often too talkative for his own good at times.
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While the latter point has been raised as a potential concern, the responsibility that comes with leading his country should only improve Biggar’s approach to this aspect of his game.
That’s certainly the view of Pivac, who believes his new skipper will grow in the role.
“I think it will add to Dan’s game. It’s obviously well documented that Dan’s a highly motivated player, he’s very competitive and he speaks his mind,” said Pivac.
“We don’t want to change him as a competitive player and we want him now to take on the role there as a captain and the duties that go with that with the referees.”
When it comes to the Guinness Six Nations, Biggar has also been there and done it time and time again since starting all five games of the 2013 Championship-winning campaign.
While Anscombe was in possession of the No.10 jersey for most of their 2019 Grand Slam, Biggar still played an influential role off the bench as he helped Wales close out games.
And he started all five games of Wales’ 2021 Championship triumph, playing 293 minutes and kicking 36 points as Pivac’s men narrowly missed out on the clean sweep.
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Biggar’s smart kick for Josh Adams’ try in the 40-24 victory over England in Round 3 was one of the decisive moments last year – a moment only a few players are capable of producing.
Put simply, he’s a game-changer and a player of the highest quality. Wales will need to be at their very best to retain their Championship title but with Biggar around, anything is possible.
For that reason alone, Dan’s the man for Pivac.