Wednesday 28 September 2016

'The boys are calling him Lazarus' - Warren Gatland on Dan Biggar's 'miraculous' recovery

Published 11/02/2016 | 17:45

Wales' Dan Biggar after the Six Nations encounter with Ireland
Wales' Dan Biggar after the Six Nations encounter with Ireland

Wales boss Warren Gatland has hailed Dan Biggar's "miraculous recovery" that means his fly-half playmaker will resume normal service against RBS 6 Nations opponents Scotland on Saturday.

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Gatland also revealed that Biggar's team-mates have started calling him Lazarus following a startling four-day turnaround in fortunes.

Biggar, arguably Wales' best player at the World Cup earlier this season, limped off midway through the first half of last Sunday's 16-16 draw with Ireland in Dublin due to a sprained ankle.

But he now lines up in an unchanged Wales team that will target a ninth successive victory over Scotland since Gatland became Wales head coach eight years ago.

"We feared the worst after the game when you saw him in a boot and on crutches," Gatland said.

"We spoke to the medics, who thought it was a three to five-week injury, but the scan came back clear. He has worked really hard since the game in terms of his recovery, icing it and stuff.

"He had to get through today's training, and he did that and looked sharp. I promise you there was no gamesmanship involved with Dan!

"He has made a miraculous recovery, and the boys have been joking, calling him Lazarus and stuff. The boys have been wanting his matchday fee to go into the pot as a fine."

Reflecting on his recovery, Biggar told WRU TV: "It has been a remarkable recovery, really. Limping off on Sunday, I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks' job.

"Luckily, it has healed up nicely over the last couple of days.

"I have been icing around the clock. I have had my foot in an ice bucket for the last four days, and obviously getting a lot of treatment and resting up."

Gatland's gamesmanship reference came after Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt had suggested an element of that in a pre-match television interview last Sunday regarding Wales full-back Gareth Anscombe's late withdrawal from the Aviva Stadium encounter due to a tight hamstring, and Liam Williams replacing him.

Asked about it on Thursday, Gatland said: "I just think the question he was asked put him (Schmidt) on the spot a little bit.

"I spoke to Joe afterwards and he said the question had thrown him a little bit and he couldn't even remember what he had responded with.

"We had a good chat about it, and probably as coaches it's a case of making sure we stick together and not try and allow anyone to put wedges between us, which can easily happen with a wrong comment or a wrong interpretation of something."

Anscombe is the solitary change in Wales' matchday 23 this weekend, taking over from Cardiff Blues colleague Alex Cuthbert on the bench, while centre Jonathan Davies wins his 50th cap.

Elsewhere, Gatland has again selected skipper Sam Warburton at blindside flanker, with Justin Tipuric wearing the number seven shirt, while Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee have another opportunity to impress following a strong scrummaging performance against Ireland.

"With the six-day turnaround, there was a temptation to make changes, particularly upfront," Gatland said.

"We discussed that, but we felt we hadn't started well in the first 20 minutes and got back in the game. So there is an opportunity for those players that started the game to make sure they start well this weekend.

"It's a reward for some players who put in a great shift in Dublin, while we will be asking a little more of some of the players as well.

"It is a good opportunity to say last week was okay, but we need to step it up. Emotionally, we have to start better and need to be fired up at home, because Scotland will come at us."

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