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Dan Biggar's Wales predecessor says 10 'has worked so hard on his game'

By PA
Courtney Lawes, (R) the England captain, and Dan Biggar, the Wales captain, who both play for Northampton Saints, (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Stephen Jones has hailed Dan Biggar’s “incredible achievement” as he prepares to welcome him into Wales’ 100-cap club.

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And former Wales fly-half Jones has also highlighted the “mental resilience” required for longevity in Welsh rugby’s highest-profile playing position.

Wales assistant coach Jones reached three figures almost 11 years ago when he lined up against the Barbarians in Cardiff.

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Current captain Biggar will emulate him in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations appointment with Italy as the current holder of Wales’ number 10 shirt.

It is a position previously filled by many greats of the game – players such as Cliff Morgan, Barry John, Phil Bennett and Jonathan Davies – and one that has remained under a fierce spotlight.

“It is an incredible achievement,” Jones said. “Dan has worked so hard on his game.

Wales Biggar Jones Italy
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
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“Every year, he evolves his game. He pushes standards in training, and he is a winner.

“He has led the group this campaign, and he has been excellent. The fact he is achieving 100 caps at home in Cardiff is brilliant for him and his family.”

Asked about the fly-half scrutiny in Wales, Jones added: “You have to develop your mental resilience. That is one aspect that you have to make sure you are solid on.

“It’s part and parcel of the number 10 jersey. You fully realise the responsibility that goes with it when you play for Wales.

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“So much is asked of the number 10s, whether it be their decision-making, how they manage the game, goalkicking. It’s a huge responsibility that goes with the jersey.”

While Biggar will become the seventh Welshman to clock up a century for his country, team-mate Alun Wyn Jones extends his ongoing world record, hitting 150 caps after recovering ahead of schedule from a shoulder injury that required two operations.

Stephen Jones added: “150 caps is amazing. The way he plays the game, he continually raises the bar and sets the standard for the group.

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“It is unbelievable, it’s as simple as that, especially in the position (second-row) he plays, which is so physical and demanding.

“The manner in which he plays the game as well, the way he trains and pushes his body. He is mentally tough and resilient, and for us, he is such a leader and important person in this group.

“The way Al conducts himself, he is the ultimate professional, and for both of them to share a wonderful experience on the same day is something they should be very proud of.”

Although Wales’ hopes of a successful Six Nations title defence are long gone, they could finish third by claiming a bonus-point victory over Italy and hope that results involving England and Scotland go their way.

They have beaten Italy 16 times in succession, while the Azzurri last won a Six Nations game seven years ago, losing 36 Tests on the bounce.

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“We’ve got to be disciplined and really accurate in our performance,” Jones said.

“What we have got to do is implement our style of play and patterns. We can’t be loose in any manner, because Italy will love that and they will capitalise and put us under pressure.

“I am glad that people expect from us. That’s a great thing. We want to make sure we play a style of rugby that suits us, which is effective, but efficient as well.”

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