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Friday 2 December 2016

Sexton eyes up a Biggar test

Leinster looking to reduce a six-point gap to the Ospreys

The Ospreys’ Dan Biggar is a similar player in many respects to Jonathan Sexton
The Ospreys’ Dan Biggar is a similar player in many respects to Jonathan Sexton

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb sees rivals Jonathan Sexton and Dan Biggar as quite similar in respect of what they can offer their countries in the Six Nations and the British & Irish Lions in 2017.

"They are both world-class players," said Webb. "I'm fortunate enough to play with Dan week-in, week-out and I know how big of a threat Jonny is, the way he controls the game, the way he can punish teams and having been there and done it."

The two premier international out-halfs could come face-to-face tomorrow night when Leinster will look to topple the PRO12 League-leading Ospreys at The RDS.

What Sexton has on his Cirriculum Vitae, as a Lions Test series winning number ten in Australia back in 2013, must be high on the list of priorities for Biggar to match this season.

"They are very similar players, good playmakers, good tactically. There's not much difference between them," stated Webb.

Certainly, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and Lions boss Warren Gatland will watch with interest for early season signs of form.

Although, as Ireland's Rob Kearney noted yesterday, the serious business of selection for the latter does not really intensify until the beginning of the Six Nations.

Of course, Sexton still has to get the go-ahead today to start his season after the rehabilitation of a shoulder injury.

The 31-year-old will be straining at the leash to show pretender Joey Carbery just how far he has to travel in the finer points of the game.

Biggar has just half-an-hour more under his belt from a routine cameo against Benetton Treviso that yielded four conversions in what was little more than kicking practice.

Eager

For the time being, Leinster will be eager to reduce the six points that separates the Ospreys frm the Irish province back in sixth.

The statistics support a home town decision, as Leinster have lost out in just one of their last nine matches against Webb's club.

There couldn't be a better time to break that hoodoo for Ospreys, given the confidence gained from the maximum points taken out of Zebre, Connacht and Treviso.

"We know ourselves how big of a challenge, how big of a step-up Leinster are," added Webb.

"We're playing well. We're full of confidence really and we're very much looking forward to it."

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