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Dan Biggar makes Six Nations selection plea to Warren Gatland

By Josh Raisey
Warren Gatland and Dan Biggar - PA

Former Wales captain Dan Biggar has said that this Guinness Six Nations is the “perfect opportunity” for head coach Warren Gatland to trial out some inexperienced players as they start building towards the 2027 World Cup.

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No team has witnessed such a dramatic exodus of their seasoned stalwarts over the past year than Wales, with the most capped player in Test history Alun Wyn Jones retiring before the World Cup alongside Justin Tipuric, and Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny, both centurions, also hanging up their international boots after Wales’ quarter-final exit in France.

Outside of the retired contingent, another centurion Taulupe Faletau is yet to return from a broken arm, meaning Gatland has seen the mother lode of experience ripped from him in recent months.

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With captain Jac Morgan set to miss the Championship after undergoing knee surgery, Gatland may have little choice but to take heed of what his former fly-half Biggar said on BBC 5 Live Sport’s The 2024 Guest List‘ show recently, where he said that there is “a lot of talented Welsh youngsters playing in the regions” who Gatland should try out at the beginning of this World Cup cycle.

“From a Welsh point of view,” the Toulon fly-half said to Mark Chapman on the show. “We are at a stage where we have to to find out a little bit more about players. Because we’ve got a lot of players who are right at the start of their career, with maybe a handful of caps, and what we had was a lot of players who were towards the end of their career with a big number of caps. So from a Welsh point of view, it’s difficult to know what’s going to be put out on the pitch because there are a lot of unknown combinations, a lot players who are going to be involved in their first squad ever.

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“So I couldn’t tell you how the Six Nations is going to pan out, but I do believe there is a lot of talented Welsh youngsters playing in the regions at the minute and if you’re going to give any youth and inexperience a chance, this is the perfect opportunity at the start of a four year cycle before the World Cup and you’re able to put in place what you want to build on over the next three-and-a-half years.”

Wales are not the only side that have lost a welter of experience since the World Cup, with Biggar’s longstanding No10 rivals Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Romain Ntamack all set to be absent for varying reasons. It is for that reason that the 112-cap Wales international says that this Championship will be very hard to call.

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“I genuinely couldn’t tell you how the Six Nations is going to go,” he said. “France are going to be without [Antoine] Dupont and [Romain] Ntamack for the first time in four or five years. England are going to be without Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes as well. How are Ireland going to cope in the first time in what seems like forever in the non Johnny Sexton era. From a Welsh point of view, a lot of players have retired or are not available for the Six Nations.

“I suppose I don’t know how any team is going to respond. If you look at it, Scotland are probably the most settled and probably had the most disappointing World Cup. So it really is a tough one.”

While Biggar was reluctant to say who he thought would come out victorious from the tournament, he did emphasise that the Six Nations is a “momentum tournament”. Biggar speaks from experience when he stressed how much easier the Six Nations becomes when a team wins their opening matches.

Wales’ 2019 Grand Slam success proves this the most, as Biggar’s side were far from convincing in their opening match against France, but overcame a 16-0 half-time deficit at the Stade de France to win and built momentum from there.

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He said: “The Six Nations is such a momentum tournament where if you win your first couple of games, it’s such an easier tournament. You’ve got your down week to prep for your next game. Whereas if you lose your first one or two, there’s so much pressure on your next game and your next game and all of a sudden you’re looking at finishing fourth or fifth or bottom of the table.

“Above any other competition I’ve played in, it’s such a momentum tournament and getting off to a good start is so, so important.”

Wales get their Six Nations campaign underway against Scotland at the Principality Stadium on February 3.

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Jon 6 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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