Dan Biggar has vowed he won’t lessen the competitive edge which has taken him to the top despite being elevated from Wales foot soldier to Wayne Pivac’s captain for the 2022 Six Nations.
Wales head coach Pivac has admitted he faces his most difficult challenge yet in trying to guide last year’s shock title winners to a defence of their crown given he has eight British & Irish Lions – who boast 726 Test caps between them – absent injured.
With Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Justin Tipuric all on the treatment table, Pivac has turned to a Lion who is fit in Northampton fly-half Biggar to lead the team.
Dan Biggar is gearing up to lead defending champions Wales in the Six Nations campaign
Biggar’s promotion was something of a surprise given he can be hot-headed on the field and Ellis Jenkins led Wales to two autumn victories over Fiji and Australia after Jones fell lame.
But the 32-year-old – who is set to win his 100th Test cap this Six Nations – is undoubtedly one of the first names Pivac’s team sheet and was a starting Lion in South Africa last summer.
‘With the number of injuries and the great man Alun Wyn missing, it opened up an opportunity for someone to take the reins,’ said Biggar. ‘I was really pleased Wayne called me on Sunday evening and offered it (the captaincy) to me. I’m really proud, but I’ve tried not to think about it too much in that sense.
‘The first thing I said to Wayne when I accepted was I didn’t want it to change who I am as a player and Wayne was in full agreement on that as well.
‘I didn’t want it to become all about me or change me as a person. I’m just excited to get going.’
After confirming his 36-man Six Nations squad on Tuesday, Pivac was honest enough to say it will be close to impossible for him to replace the experience his eight missing Lions would usually bring.
‘We’ve obviously lost a lot of caps and experience, but that presents an opportunity for younger lads to step up and show leadership qualities and enthusiasm,’ said Biggar. ‘It’s really exciting. The tournament is so special anyway and it will be some boys’ first taste of it.’
Injuries aside, Wales’ build-up to the Six Nations hasn’t been helped by their four regional sides having been hit hard by Covid-19, long periods in quarantine, and cancelled games.
Biggar will lead the team in the absence of key men such as Alun Wyn Jones and Ken Owens
Pivac’s men open up their 2022 campaign away to Ireland on February 5. They will meet up at their Vale of Glamorgan training base for the first time on Monday.
‘The first week will all be about drip feeding information and getting boys up to speed because of the situation we’ve had with lots of the boys not playing and Covid,’ Biggar said.
‘We’ve got new faces in the squad and it’s important we get up to speed quickly.
‘Traditionally we’ve been slow starters and there is not really any room for that with an away game first and then a really tough game against an improving Scotland side.’