Rob Howley: Give Dan Biggar time to settle into Wales' Six Nations opener against Ireland
Rob Howley has urged Wales fans to give Dan Biggar time and space when he makes his Six Nations bow against Ireland.
Last Updated: 02/02/13 1:19pm
Biggar's recent performances for the Ospreys have seen him selected ahead of James Hook at fly-half for the Millennium Stadium clash.
The 23-year-old has won 11 caps but none of them have been collected in a pressure cooker atmosphere that Six Nations rugby creates.
"Dan Biggar is the in-form 10 in Wales," said interim head coach 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."
Howley has also handed lock Andrew Coombs his debut, elevating him to Test match status less than three years after he made his first Dragons appearance.
Skipper Sam Warburton have been vastly impressed by the 28-year-old.
"You can tell he is dying to get on the pitch," he 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."
And Howley said: "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 lineout.
"The lineout game against Ireland is always important. When we've played against them recently there has always been a number of lineouts in the game.
"We just need to have options in that area, and Andrew will certainly add to that part of the game."
Coombs will partner fit-again Ian Evans at lock but Wales remain without injured second-rows Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris.