Thursday 18 January 2018

Dan Biggar could be threat to Irish than our Johnny could be to Wales

Dan Biggar racked up 20 points
Dan Biggar racked up 20 points
Jon Sexton
Jamie Heaslip

Jonathan SEXTON won't be the only "incredible" out-half on show at The Millennium Stadium this Saturday.

So says Ireland assistant coach Richie Murphy of Welsh outhalf Dan Biggar.

"I think he's a class act. I have been involved with him over the last few years with Leinster and he has been a real thorn in our side.

"He has a good kicking game, good passing game, strong in the air, good tackler. There are very few weaknesses in his game," added Murphy.

There has always been the sense Wales' Biggar has been more valued in Ireland than he has been in his home country.

It has taken Warren Gatland too long to side with The Osprey in the debate against Rhys Priestland.

Leinster have found out to their cost that to trifle with Biggar can be detrimental and the greater the pressure the more he thrives.

Back to Ireland, Murphy confirmed how Jonathan Sexton came through yesterday's morning session and is "expected to be fit."

"He's driving it exactly like he would be any other day," said Murphy.

The same goes for Jamie Heaslip (back), who was able to take contact towards the end of last week and has shown no adverse reaction on his way back to fitness.

Concussion victims Seán O'Brien and Jared Payne have taken a longer route back to fitness due to the fact Ireland had a two-week break.

"They have finished their return-to-play protocols. They took part in contact. An assessment of them will be made over the next 24 hours. Both of them look fit and healthy and ready to play."

Ireland have been admonished for their tendency to kick rather than keep.

For all of that, there is an underground movement that sees the beauty in trading in traditional Irish strengths.

Has kicking become sexy?

"Someone said that to me alright," said Ireland's boot-to-ball guru Murphy.

"I suppose we have been lucky that we have got good pay out of our kicking game because our back three players and midfield players are so good in the air.

"It's definitely a two-sided thing. You have guys who are good in the air and you have guys who are reasonably good kickers."

England brought in Jack Nowell for Jonny May at The Avvia Stadium. Wales brought in Liam Williams for Alex Cuthbert in Paris, both in the name of defence.

"Our kicking game over the last while hasn't been as great as everyone has wrote it up to be," warned Murphy.

"But, England didn't really deal with it that well. That is really all I can say about it.

"It is an area that if you look at Wales, look at their back three players, they are really good in the air."

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