The Welsh rugby goldfish bowl is like water off a duck’s back to Dan Biggar as he prepares for an impending World Cup challenge in Japan.
The Northampton fly-half has had his critics during a 73-cap Test career – most recently, former Wales wing JJ Williams claiming that Wales would not win a World Cup with Biggar at No10. But it says everything about his durability and match-controlling longevity that Biggar has arrived in Asia as an integral part of Wales’ global supremacy bid.
After playing key roles off the bench for much of last season, working in tandem with Gareth Anscombe, Biggar now steps forward to reclaim Wales’ No 10 shirt while Anscombe continues his recovery from a World Cup-ending knee injury.
Biggar’s worth to Wales head coach Warren Gatland cannot be understated ahead of the tournament. “Comments are comments,” Biggar said. “I have had it my whole career. It really doesn’t bother me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I actually quite enjoy those things as it gives me motivation.
“I meant it to be a bit tongue-in-cheek at the end (Biggar thanked Williams for his comments after Wales beat England last month). It was not so much the comments about me, but we had won 14 on the bounce prior to that England game.
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“It was our first game of a new season with lots of boys playing at Twickenham, which is not the easiest place to play anyway. It’s less about me – I couldn’t care less what he said about me – it was more the negative comment about the team after one difficult afternoon.”
Asked about big occasions and criticism firing him, Biggar added: “I’m competitive. I don’t mind that side of it – it’s part and parcel of the job. If you are not comfortable with that, and in the position I play in this country, then you’re probably in the wrong job! I don’t tend to put any pressure on myself, really.
“Certainly in the last few years since I’ve had a little boy and with my family, they are the most important thing to me, anyway. That’s been a big thing for me over the last 12-18 months, but I quite like having it [criticism] and performing on the big stage. Hopefully, I can keep delivering if called upon.”
'I’ve often said I’d hate to see an argument between Dan Biggar and TJ Perenara. They are two of the most bloody-minded people I’ve ever worked with'
– Northampton boss Chris Boyd tells @OwainJTJones how much he cherishes the Welsh player's attitude https://t.co/DZHGUEgy3C
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 12, 2019
Biggar proved an instant hit in his first season at Franklin’s Gardens, helping Saints reach the Gallagher Premiership play-offs last term. “I’m not going to tell anyone else what to do because they have to do their own thing but for me, it [the Northampton move] has been the best thing I’ve done,” he said.
“I had 10 fabulous years at the Ospreys and loved every minute of it, but for me getting outside of the goldfish bowl… with all due respect, you guys aren’t bothered if we play Newcastle or Sale away on a Friday night.
“Even though Northampton is a rugby-mad town, it’s quite nice to be outside the bubble there instead of Wales, where rugby is all year round.”
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Gatland handed Biggar a Wales debut during his first year at the helm in 2008 – and the Saints No10 has no doubt about the New Zealander’s impact. “What Warren has done since he has been here is instil a belief, more than anything,” Biggar added.
“When we go into games against England or Australia, South Africa, we are always going with the mindset that we are going to win, whereas before it was more in hope rather than expectation.
“We are fully aware we are up against some big teams – just in our pool, let alone the latter stages of the tournament – and it’s about making sure the belief is right. If we can get out of the pool first, the other seven teams in the quarter-finals will not want to play us.”
– Press Association
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