Wales coach Rob Howley has called on the Welsh rugby public to allow young fly-half Dan Biggar time to develop.
Wales coach Rob Howley has called on the Welsh rugby public to allow fly-half Dan Biggar time to develop.
The 23-year-old Ospreys playmaker will make his Six Nations debut against Ireland on Saturday having been given the nod ahead of James Hook to replace the injured Rhys Priestland.
Biggar has 11 caps, but this will be his first experience of the pressures that come with being Wales' pivot in the Six Nations.
“Dan Biggar is the in-form 10 in Wales,” said Howley.
“His game-management during the Heineken Cup matches this season – Toulouse home and away, and his general play against Leicester – he was one of the stand-out players.
“It is important he gets an opportunity, but please can you keep the pressure off him. It is important he is given the chance to develop.
“It's a big game for Dan. Obviously, he understands that, but our Welsh culture and the way we talk about our 10s, it is important that Dan is given an opportunity.
“He will certainly be given a chance by the Wales management. He understands there is competition with James, but it is a big starting game for Dan. He has been exceptional this week.”
Meanwhile, Wales captain Sam Warburton has been impressed with the enthusiasm shown by 28-year-old Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, who will make his international debut this weekend, less than three years after turning professional.
“You can tell he (Coombs) is dying to get on the pitch,” Warburton said.
“I think he is one of those players who I don't think it will affect him too much. I think he will take it all in his stride.
“He seems very confident and ready for the game on Saturday. He is a very difficult player to play against, and he has played exceptionally well over the past few months. I am looking forward to packing down with him.”
Howlet was equally impressed.
“Andrew has been on our radar over the last six months, really. He's a very good ball-carrier, his work-rate is second to none and he is excellent in the line-out,” said the coach.
“The line-out game against Ireland is always important. When we've played against them recently there has always been a number of line-outs in the game. We just need to have options in that area, and Andrew will certainly add to that part of the game.”