Thursday 26 April 2018

Biggar refuses to get sidetracked by Lions tour ahead of date with 'excellent' Munster

Ospreys' Dan Biggar. Photo: Sportsfile
Ospreys' Dan Biggar. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The same look of dejection that was etched across Dan Biggar's face as he trudged off injured after 47 minutes of the Ospreys' defeat to Scarlets two weeks ago is likely to be seen again by at least one Lions tourist before they board the plane to New Zealand.

The attritional nature of the conclusions of both the Guinness PRO12 and the Premiership means that Warren Gatland will be breathing a huge sigh of relief if, by some minor miracle, all 41 players in his squad arrive in New Zealand unscathed.

Thankfully, in Biggar's case, his ankle injury isn't as bad as first feared and he is likely to recover in time to play Munster in Saturday's PRO12 semi-final.

While the Munster clash is of course hugely important, you can be sure that Biggar wondered if his Lions chances were scuppered as he was forced off, just weeks before the squad are due to depart.

It has taken a lot of hard work for Biggar to put himself in contention for the Lions and now that he has made the cut, he understandably wants to make sure that he fulfils a lifelong dream.

"Naturally you don't want to get injured but also, if you go into any game with that type of attitude, you're going to be more at risk if you didn't just roll your sleeves up and get on with it," the Wales out-half insists.

"It's a huge occasion for the Ospreys as a club and whatever is ahead in the next couple of weeks, you can't really control. I'm sure the four (Ospreys Lions) of us involved on Saturday will be looking to just concentrate on that first and then assess where we are afterwards.

"Obviously it's a pretty exciting time. I'm looking forward to the summer but hopefully we can go on that tour with the PRO12 trophy and winner's medal in the back pocket. That would set us up even better for going on tour."

The same kind of thoughts will be shared by Biggar's fellow Ospreys Lions tourists Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb but of course, Peter O'Mahony, CJ Stander and Conor Murray are no different in that regard.

The seven Lions who will be on show at Thomond Park this weekend all have something of a point to prove to Gatland. At the breakdown, Tipuric will be looking to get one over on O'Mahony and Stander, while the half-back battle will be crucial.

Biggar however is keen not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

"Myself and Rhys are obviously aware that we are up against two very good operators, especially at Thomond Park, where they know the ground and the conditions," the 27-year-old maintains.

"We're not trying to make it a half-back battle; Rhys against Conor or me and Tyler (Bleyendaal). It's looking to try and make sure we gain some control in that area which obviously helps enormously.

"But yeah, they are two fabulous players but again, me and Rhys will be looking to get control for our team rather than let Conor and Tyler dictate the play as much as possible for Munster."

The Ospreys haven't played at Thomond Park this season and whether or not that proves to be decisive remains to be seen but with their influential skipper Alun Wyn Jones set to return from a shoulder injury, Biggar doesn't envisage there being any fear factor in travelling to Limerick.

No away team has ever won a PRO12 semi-final and despite Ospreys' inconsistent form in recent weeks, confidence is high amongst the squad, according to Biggar.

"We obviously know that we have been a bit out of sorts but the mood in the camp is pretty good," he adds.

"We know we're going in as underdogs but we're quietly confident that we can produce a performance and get a positive result. They have been excellent.

"For me personally, I've played there several times before and so have quite a few of the lads. We know what Thomond Park is like. We know how passionate the crowd are and how good the place is.

"To be honest, if we were to play anywhere in the semi-final, in terms of getting an atmosphere and being part of an occasion, there are very few places in Europe better than Thomond Park on a big match day.

"We're looking forward to the challenge and not looking at it as a daunting task. It will be great to be a part of what Thomond Park represents on a big rugby weekend. I don't think that's an issue for us."

Irish Independent

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