Dan Biggar is at the peak of his powers as veteran fly-half leads Northampton charge into Premiership play-offs… and Saints star ‘relaxed’ about the future with just a year left on his contract
- Dan Biggar is leading Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title hopes
- Saints can seal a play-off spot by beating lowly Newcastle on Saturday
- The 32-year-old will captain Wales on this summer’s tour of South Africa
- His Northampton contract expires at the end of the 2022/23 season
At 32 and with 14 years as a professional already in the bank, you might think Dan Biggar’s best days are behind him. Not a bit of it.
Now Wales captain and the man leading Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title hopes, Biggar is not only still thriving, but playing the finest rugby of his career.
On Saturday he will hope to guide Chris Boyd’s Saints to victory over lowly Newcastle and seal a play-off spot. Whatever happens at the end of the domestic season, he will then head off to lead his country on a brutal three-Test tour of South Africa. It’s a daunting schedule.
Dan Biggar (above) is leading Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title hopes
But in this form, Biggar holds no fears of what is to come.
‘Even in the Six Nations, which was disappointing from a team perspective, I felt like I played pretty well,’ Biggar told Sportsmail. ‘I feel like I’ve had a really good year coming off a long season and the last Lions tour. I’m looking forward to lacing the boots up each Saturday afternoon.
‘That tells me I feel in decent nick. We’re in really good form with Northampton at the minute so hopefully we can keep that confidence and momentum going into a must-win game against Newcastle. If you’d offered us Newcastle at home – without being disrespectful to them – to qualify for the top four at the start of the year, then we’d have snapped your hand off.’
So often criminally underrated in his home country, Biggar’s selection as starting Lions fly-half for last summer’s tour of South Africa was finally recognition of his undoubted class.
In Northampton, there is no-one who doubts him.
Since joining the Saints in 2018, Biggar has slowly but surely helped guide Northampton back to where they belong at the top end of the Premiership.
The fly-half has helped guide Northampton back to the top end of the Premiership
There has been no serious silverware as yet, but that could change in the weeks to come even if Boyd’s men are the outsiders to trouble the more fancied Leicester, Saracens and Harlequins.
Biggar and Northampton should have too much for Newcastle on Saturday which will at least seal a play-off berth. From there, anything could happen.
‘I’ve got a young family with another little one on the way,’ said Biggar, whose Northampton contract expires at the end of the 2022/23 season.
‘I don’t know what the future is going to hold. We’ve got a World Cup coming up which I want to get to. I’ve absolutely loved my time at Northampton. I hope there is a bit more to come, but I’m quite relaxed about it. We haven’t had any discussions yet. I’ve made no decision.
‘Because of international commitments I feel like I haven’t been around at Northampton as much as I would have liked. The way the game is at the minute you’re almost less valuable to your club if you’re an international because you’re away for the autumn, the Six Nations and the summer.
‘It is an aim of mine to get to the next World Cup and see where we go from there.
Saints can seal a play-off spot with victory over lowly Newcastle on Saturday afternoon
‘From a Wales point of view they are probably looking at the World Cup as the end of a cycle for us 30-odd-year-olds. They’ll probably look to freshen things up after that.
‘I think the World Cup is a good target and then we’ll reassess.’
Biggar was appointed Wales captain for the Six Nations with Alun Wyn Jones out injured. He will lead the team again in South Africa even though Jones is now back fit.
Club duty is Biggar’s focus before travelling to the land of the Springboks.
In director of rugby Boyd’s last season in charge, Northampton have timed their play-off run perfectly. They are one of the league’s form teams as the season reaches its business end.
With Lions Biggar and Courtney Lawes as the spine of his team, Boyd has surrounded them with several young and promising England-qualified players.
Biggar’s selection as starting Lions fly-half on the South Africa tour was rightful recognition
Lewis Ludlam, Tommy Freeman, Fraser Dingwall and Alex Mitchell have all earned recognition from Eddie Jones while Scotland centre Rory Hutchinson is also a fine player.
No team will fancy taking Saints on in the play-offs.
‘When Chris came in I think it would be quite nice to say the club was in transition,’ said Biggar.
‘I know the club was disappointed with the couple of years before he came in from the heights they’d set. What Chris has done has been really, really vital. If you look at the first team Chris selected and look at how many young English players are now there and playing at the top level, I think that’s a credit to him. There is definitely a feelgood factor around the club.
‘We play a good brand of rugby and it would be nice to send him off with a trophy.’
Biggar hasn’t ruled out a move abroad after the 2023 World Cup, but a return to former side Ospreys or one of the other Welsh regions is unlikely.
The 32-year-old fly-half will captain Wales again on this summer’s tour of South Africa
As Biggar continues to thrive in England, rugby in his homeland is in chaos after a poor Six Nations which included a first home defeat by Italy. Biggar led Wayne Pivac’s side against the Azzurri and admits the result was embarrassing.
‘This team always has a way of bouncing back and responding to tough defeats and criticism. I’ve no doubt there will be a reaction and you’ll see a much better performance than what we produced in the finale to the Six Nations,’ said Biggar.
‘Going into this summer there is no doubt we’ll start very much as underdogs. I’m sure everyone outside our camp will be looking at how much South Africa are going to win by not whether they’re going to win. That suits us down to the ground. It’s a great place for us to be.’
Off the field, political infighting continues to dog the Welsh game with the country’s four regions woefully underfunded by the Welsh Rugby Union. National head coach Pivac is under big pressure, but Biggar ‘100 per cent’ believes he is the right man for the job.
‘Everyone has got to try to come together for the greater good rather than look after themselves,’ said Biggar of Welsh rugby’s latest round of chaos.
‘There is a lot of fighting in house and it’s incredible really the success the Welsh team has had over the last 10 years considering there is always something going on. We’ve got a group of players in Wales who can mentally dig in and get on with things. That’s how we’re going to have to be again.’
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article