Dan Biggar has backed the Ospreys to bounce back from defeat in Zebre, pointing to the progress of the next generation in the squad as evidence that the region is heading in the right direction.
Biggar, still only 24 himself but just three games off 150 for his home region and well in front of anyone else as all-time record points scorer with 1522, spoke with passion about the future of the Ospreys after Friday night’s loss, stressing how far some of the youngsters have progressed over the course of this season.
The Worthington’s Supporters’ Player of the Year for 2013/14 said he is excited about what lies ahead for the region.
“Another pre-season for this group, and more game time together, and you’ll see the boys coming on leaps and bounds, I have no doubt about that” said Biggar.
“Look at how far some of them have come on this season after being in the environment and stepping up to play for the Ospreys. A lot of them are 19, 20, and this is their first season of professional rugby but look how far they’ve come in a short period of time. This time next year they’ll be that much further down the line.
“There’s no place to learn like out on the pitch in high pressure games and, with the support of the coaches and the older players, they can use this to come out the other side stronger.
“Let’s not think for one minute that we are using the younger players as an excuse for the loss, or pointing the finger. As senior players we didn’t deliver either on some occasions. We've got to get that balance right. This year has been great for discovering what options we have, discovering people’s strengths and weaknesses, and I think that six months or a year down the line we will be in a much better place than we were at the start of this season.
“I know it sounds strange off the back of a defeat in Zebre but I am genuinely hugely, hugely excited about next season and the talent we’ve got coming through and what we can achieve with a bit more time together and a bit more experience under the belt. “
Reflecting on the defeat in Parma, in a game which they went into knowing a win was crucial, Biggar was typically honest in his analysis:
“We started so poorly, it seemed that everything we’d spoken about before the game went out of the window in the first 20 minutes and that was really frustrating.
“We battled back really well and all credit to some of the youngsters in the squad who showed great character. We got ourselves on the front foot after half-time, scored a few tries to get us in front and to be honest, at 27-16 it had to be game over. Not to close it out from there is probably more disappointing than the way we started the game.
“A couple of split decisions and that game would have gone a different way. We ran into touch with 20 seconds to go to hand over possession and then we defended poorly. What happened at the end was very disappointing but it was what we deserved if we are honest with ourselves because we didn’t manage the game as we should have done.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it’s easy to say now that we maybe should have taken a different approach to the last few minutes when we were chasing the fourth try. So many times we were a few metres out and attacking and coughed the ball up, or we had a line out that we didn’t secure, and that costs you ultimately.
“Top teams finish those chances off. It was a pressure game and we are a young team. Some of the boys did themselves proud, but it’s a huge learning curve this team is on at the moment. It’s just a shame that these learning curves come in big games. That’s what it’s all about and that’s how you get the experience to win these games, by learning what it is like to be in pressure situations and learning how to stay calm and make the right decisions.
“We’ll get there, I am absolutely 100 per cent sure about that. There is some outstanding talent coming through at the region and it is being integrated into the squad. Circumstances mean that’s happening maybe a little faster than would have been the case otherwise but I don’t think anyone could argue that we have a talented group of young players who will learn from disappointment like we went through on Friday night.”
After the disappointment in Parma on Thursday and Ulster securing a losing bonus point at home to Ulster the following evening, the season ends on at the weekend, but Biggar insists that the team won’t be taking the game lightly.
“It’s hugely important that we are professional about how we approach Saturday’s game” he said.
“We are professionals, we are paid to do a job that other people would love to do, and we want to make sure we finish off on a high, at home, in front of our great supporters.
“We’ve probably disappointed them a bit this season, particularly on the road, so we are desperate to put on a good show for them so that they can go away for the summer appreciating what we are trying to do and happy that, regardless of our failures this season, we are heading in the right direction. Some of these young boys have progressed exceptionally over the course of the season and now we all need to make sure they get the support they need to help kick the Ospreys on to the next level.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game against Connacht at the Liberty Stadium are on sale now at the Ticket Office, via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665 or online at ospreysrugby.com/buytickets .
Season memberships for 2014/15 are also on sale now, with adult prices starting at just £99. For full details and an application form please click here.