Dan Biggar has spoken about his desire to establish himself as the Ospreys first choice outside half during the forthcoming season, and how he believes that the competition for a starting place with James Hook will drive both of them on to become better players.
The 19-year old was talking after he returned to the region for pre-season training this week, following a summer where he played a key role in two Welsh wins during their summer tour to the USA and Canada. Talking about the forthcoming season, Biggar said:
“I’m looking to establish myself as the first choice ten this season. I was fortunate to start a few games there last year but I have to kick on from that and continue to develop. That’s my aim, and I know how difficult it will be with James Hook here as well, he’s a brilliant player and it will be a real battle to get in there ahead of him. We’ve got an excellent relationship and I have nothing but respect for James, we get on very well on and off the field and I think that this helps with the competition for a starting place. We’ve got a very healthy rivalry, we both want to be starting regularly for the Ospreys and we understand that this is what professional sport is all about. Neither of us can take anything for granted, we can’t afford to slip up, and this competition can only help to drive us both on to be better players which will benefit the region and Wales in the long run.”
“It’s important to ensure squad strength in depth, which is what we are trying to achieve here at the Ospreys, as it enables coaches to rotate a squad throughout a season without impacting on performances. All great sides have genuine competition for places and we have to have it too.”
The 2008/09 campaign saw Biggar take his first steps in the professional game, establishing his place in the Ospreys squad following two outings as a replacement at the tail end of the previous season. In total, he made 20 appearances for the region during the season, including 11 starts, and his progress was rewarded by inclusion in Warren Gatland’s Wales squad for the autumn internationals. Having made his senior Wales debut in the November win against Canada at the Millennium Stadium, he was then selected for the summer tour to face the Canucks once again, along with the USA. He made his first international start on the tour, kicking 22 points against Canada, before featuring as a replacement against the States in the second match, contributing another four points. Recalling the tour experience, he said:
“It was a great experience, a fantastic two weeks in two beautiful places. The results went well and we played some good rugby in the two games so overall it was a first class experience and has left me wanting more. I was delighted just to be selected for the tour, so to get plenty of game time and make a real contribution on the pitch was fantastic. Personally, I felt that the whole trip went extremely well, I definitely think that I matured considerably over the two weeks so the experience, for me, was definitely a worthwhile one.”
Having enjoyed a short break to recharge the batteries, Biggar is now back at the Ospreys training base at Llandarcy working hard to ensure he is in good shape for the new season. Having participated in a series of fitness tests at Swansea University on his first day back, he is know working hard under the watchful eye of Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Bennett, and he says that he expects to be pushed to the limit over the coming weeks:
“It’s good to be back in the swing of things, we’ve had the tour and then a little break but I think most of the guys were looking to get back into training before their leave period was over, everybody knows that it’s a big year for us and the squad is keen to get off to a good start. It’s a new fitness regime for us with Benny here now but most of us know him very well already through the Wales camp. He’s a top bloke and he knows everything there is to know about nutrition and conditioning, but he’ll work us very hard without any let up. I have no doubt that we’ll all be pushed to the limit, with the emphasis on getting the squad in peak physical condition for what will be a long, hard season ahead of us. The next few weeks is when the hard work gets done that will shape our conditioning for the rest of the season, and if we get this right then the work that we do know will stand us in stead for the next nine or ten months.”