Morning Chronicle - Welsh captain Biggar hopes youngsters can 'ruffle Irish feathers'

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Welsh captain Biggar hopes youngsters can 'ruffle Irish feathers'
Welsh captain Biggar hopes youngsters can 'ruffle Irish feathers'

Welsh captain Biggar hopes youngsters can 'ruffle Irish feathers'

Dan Biggar says he will be very surprised if he has to deliver a rousing captain's talk prior to the titleholders' Six Nations opener with Ireland on Saturday but hopes instead his self-belief rubs off on his less experienced team-mates.

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The 32-year-old fly-half has assumed the captaincy due to regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones being injured.

Biggar, who made his Test debut in 2008, is one of the few older heads in the team as the Welsh have lost several other key veterans.

As well as Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Justin Tipuric are also sidelined.

Biggar, though, says they are intent on "ruffling a few Irish feathers" early on in Dublin even if their opponents are "probably the form team in the northern hemisphere" having won eight Tests on the trot, including the scalp of New Zealand last November.

"I don't think so, no. I would be very surprised if that comes out tomorrow afternoon," said Biggar after being asked if he was preparing a Churchillian-style speech before the game.

"I hope in my approach I give off the confidence and I suppose the belief in myself and that rubs off on my team.

"If that encourages the lads playing their first Six Nations match that they are good enough and not just rocking up to soak up everything Ireland have got then that is positive."

Biggar, who has won over 90 caps for his country and played three Tests for the British & Irish Lions, said the inexperienced players too could be a bonus for the older heads.

"I think sometimes when stepping into the unknown or the unexpected the no-fear attitude stands you in really good stead as opposed to the boys who know what is coming," he said.

"The senior lads can get a bit nervous but those with nothing to fear keeps the older boys like myself young and hungry as well."

- 'Arm wrestle' -

Biggar admits there is a lot of experience missing from the team but takes heart from those who already performed well in the autumn Tests when some key players were out.

"We did find a couple of gems such as Taine Basham (backrow forward). For me, he was the pick of the autumn for us and he gets his chance tomorrow," said Biggar.

"We have had two weeks of good prep and we are intent on going there on the front foot and take the game to Ireland."

Wales go into the game as underdogs with even their chances of retaining the title written off.

But Biggar says that has become the norm.

"We always start as fourth or fifth favourites, certainly always behind the big three (England, France and Ireland) and I think this year we are behind the Scots," said Biggar.

"It has been the same the last 10 years but people forget we have won the title more than anyone else in that period, four for us and England and Ireland three times each.

"It makes no difference if we are at full strength or half the team is missing we are always the underdogs.

"All I am focussed on is getting into an arm wrestle with Ireland on Saturday because that is what you have to do with them otherwise you are in big trouble."

Ireland defence coach Simon Easterby says they risk letting themselves down if they allow their discipline to falter.

The Irish were on the back foot just 14 minutes into the 2021 championship following Peter O'Mahony's dismissal in the 21-16 defeat to Wales.

"Players have a responsibility to do things in a legal manner," said Easterby on Friday.

"The game is tough enough these days without guys having to do things outside of normal."