Dan Biggar says he's looking forward to getting back to "doing what I enjoy doing" when he pulls on the Ospreys number 10 shirt for the opening Magners League game of the season against Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday evening.
The young fly-half, who doesn’t celebrate his 21st birthday until October, enjoyed a real breakthrough season last time around, making 26 appearances for the region and scoring 298 points. Despite heading to New Zealand for Wales’ summer trip in June, he has been named in the starting line-up for the season opener, one of a handful of the touring squad to step straight back into regional action, and he says that is exactly how he would want it:
“I wouldn’t want it any other way to be honest with you” he insisted.
“I want to be playing games and I can’t wait to get back on the field. Some guys have played a lot of rugby, particularly coming off the back of the Lions tour last year, and then going to New Zealand in the summer, but I’m sure they are already itching to play again and will be back over the next week or two.”
Biggar featured as a second-half replacement in the final pre-season fixture against Gloucester at the Liberty Stadium a fortnight ago, helping himself to seven points, and he says that it was good to blow away the cobwebs before Friday night’s game:
“It certainly helped that I got some game-time, just to get some of the rustiness out of the way, but to be honest, it’ll take a bit of time to get up to full speed. The boys have trained extremely well over the last few weeks to be fair. It was obviously a little bit disappointing to lose to Gloucester but we realise that in pre-season it’s not all about results. The second half performance that day was a lot better, and what was important was that we took some things away from the game that we knew we had to work on and improve on before this game came around.
“We followed that match with a hard week in training and we’re thoroughly looking forward to the first proper game of the season this Friday.”
Despite the Ospreys boasting a record of three straight wins at Ravenhill, Biggar is well aware of the challenge his team faces on the opening night.
“It will be tough” he stressed.
“To be fair, we’ve got a decent record out there over the last few years, but we are professional enough to know that past results count for nothing and are expecting a very difficult evening on Friday. They’ve made a few key signings over the summer, it’s the first weekend of the season and they’ll all be fired up to get a good start. They’ll have a passionate crowd right behind them as always, so I’ve no doubt it’s going to be tough 80 minutes. It’s always one of the toughest places to go and play and it’ll be no different this year. We know that we’ll have to be firing on all cylinders from the first whistle to get anything.”
With the introduction of Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby to the Magners League adding to the workload, with four additional fixtures to squeeze into the season, it is clear that the full squad will get plenty of opportunities throughout the season, and Biggar is quick to point out that every Ospreys player needs to take their opportunities when they come:
“The introduction of the Italian teams has added four fixtures into the mix which brings with it its complications, but it’s great because it means that there are more chances for boys to play throughout the season. We’re looking forward to playing these teams, they will add something to the Magners League. Then you’ve got the LV= Cup and the Heineken and there are plenty of games in the months ahead. It’ll be a real test of the squad.
“The boys know it’s a long season, I think the coaches will manage the full squad over the course of the season to get the best out of us. I don’t think you’ll hear any of us grumbling to be honest. We’re all paid to play rugby, it’s something that we all love doing. It’s a heck of a job really isn’t it, to run out in front of 10 or 15,000 people or more and play the sport you love, representing your local region so you won’t hear any complaints about us doing that.
“If you’re lucky enough to be given a chance then you’ve got to take it and fortunately for me, it worked out that way. If you don’t take that chance when you get it, you can’t complain about not being in the side afterwards, and that’s the same whoever you are, a senior pro or a youngster coming through. Luckily enough for me, when I was given the chance I took it and haven’t really looked back since, but I’m not stupid enough to think I can take anything for granted. Every time you pull the shirt on you are on trial effectively, and you have to reach that standard.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying my rugby at the moment, and enjoying life on and off the field. I’m looking forward to Friday and helping the Ospreys build on what we achieved at the end of last year.”