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Biggar as a 19-year-old: 'Dan would lose his head quite often...'

By Liam Heagney

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Worcester boss Jonathan Thomas has compared his upcoming teenage out-half Fin Smith with the young Dan Biggar that he knew coming through at the Ospreys in Wales many years ago. Now 32, Biggar had Smith as his direct opponent last Friday night when Northampton hosted the Warriors at Franklin’s Gardens. 

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The evening didn’t go well for the visitors as Worcester were crushed 66-10 but Biggar showed his class in the aftermath, spending some time on the pitch post-game for a quick encouraging chat with Smith who endured a difficult time with his forwards on the back foot throughout.

A 19-year-old grandson of Tom Elliot, a 1955 Lions tourist from Scotland, Smith started this season on loan at Ampthill in the Championship after guiding England U20s to summer Six Nations glory, but he was recalled earlier this month by his parent club after Owen Williams suffered a serious hamstring injury.

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The match at Northampton was just Smith’s fifth-ever Premiership start for Worcester and while the result was painful, his coach Thomas, an ex-Wales back-rower, saw enough to be able to compare Smith with the younger version of Biggar that he encountered in the late noughties at the Ospreys.   

“It was quite ironic that Fin was playing against Dan because I was playing at the Ospreys when he came through at 18. There are some similarities but Fin is probably a little bit more composed as a 19-year-old than Dan was and I mean that in a nice way. Dan would lose his head quite often and be shouting at the forwards at half-time. He was a little bit more animated.

“But where there are a lot of similarities is both are very assertive and articulate for young men at the same age. Both have got a good all-round game at that age, a really good balance and the really good thing at nine and ten is you need leadership and the challenge for any young ten is to lead or drive a team when you are that age because naturally, you are playing with a lot of guys you have looked up to over the years. 

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“That is always a challenge but it is something that comes quite naturally to Fin and certainly to Dan at the same age. It was quite ironic that they were on the field at the same time (last week). Fin had a really fine game in terms of when you are playing on the back foot it is a massive challenge for your backs and particularly your nine and ten, so you have got to be brave in those situations. 

“If you are a 19-year-old No10 you know that most opposition coaches are talking about, ‘Let’s rough him up, let’s run over him’, and that is something that Fin deals with pretty well. Listen, there are areas of his game that he needs to work on and he knows that. He is pretty self-aware but that is an ongoing thing. It’s just about game time for young players and growing in the areas that you need to improve.”

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Biggar as a 19-year-old: 'Dan would lose his head quite often...'

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