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Coach explains Biggar omission

Wales fly-half starts against Baa-Baas but out of Australia tour

Last updated: 2nd June 2012   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Coach explains Biggar omission

Dan Biggar: Misses out on the tour of Australia

We have spoken to him about his game management but sometimes it is a numbers game and it is about flexibility when it comes to selecting a squad to go to Australia.

Rob Howley
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Rob Howley claimed a lack of flexibility was a key factor in his surprise decision to omit Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar from his squad to tour Australia.

The 22-year-old has been the form outside-half in Wales over the course of the last few months, playing a pivotal role in the Ospreys' march to the RaboDirect Pro12 title.

Biggar started Saturday's 30-21 Millennium Stadium victory over the Barbarians before leaving the field during the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

But Wales caretaker head coach Howley revealed that Biggar's appearance against the Baa-Baas had not even amounted to an audition to provide back-up for Wales' current first-choice number 10 Rhys Priestland, as the player had been informed in midweek that he would not be aboard Sunday's flight to Australia for the three-Test series.

The other four players dropped from Howley's original squad are centre Adam Warren, prop Ryan Bevington, wing Will Harries and flanker Martyn Williams, who won his 100th and final cap for his country as a second-half replacement in Cardiff.

With Biggar dropped, James Hook will now compete with Priestland for a starting role down under, and it was the Perpignan man's ability to also play at centre and full-back which proved pivotal in Howley's final selection.

Howley said: "Having spoken to Dan throughout the week we have been mindful of the motivation for the Baa-Baas game as well as the travel logistics for going to Australia.

"We spoke to some of the senior players in terms of guidance of when you actually tell a player he is not going on tour.

"Is it now on the Saturday after the emotion of a Test match or on the Tuesday or Wednesday when they will have time to reflect as obviously it is a huge disappointment?

"Those five players have been spoken to and we have gone through the reasons why they have not been selected.

"Dan has been one of the form players in the RaboDirect Pro12. He has been in our environment over the last year and for longer.

"But James Hook, in terms of the two 10s and the schedule we have got, can play, 10, 12, 13 and 15 and when you are going on a tour of the magnitude of going to the other side of the world to Australia you need flexibility of selection.

"It is no reflection on Dan's form. Dan over the last four months has played particularly well for the Ospreys.

"We have spoken to him about his game management but sometimes it is a numbers game and it is about flexibility when it comes to selecting a squad to go to Australia."

Crucial try

Hook scored 20 points, including a crucial try, as Wales rallied to a 30-21 victory over the Barbarians.

Howley, deputising for the absent Warren Gatland, added: "It was a Test match and we played like it. It was a huge squad effort this week.

"It wasn't pretty, there was a lot of turnover ball, but there's a lot we can work on in Australia.

"We're looking forward to it, it will be a momentous occasion next Saturday and we'll be going out there with every effort."

Wales greats Shane Williams and Martyn Williams, playing on opposing teams, said farewell to rugby in front of a 57,000-strong crowd and it was the latter who emerged on the winning side.

There have been reports of a farewell season in an emerging league, possibly in Japan, but Shane Williams told BBC Wales: "I'm retired from rugby, it was my last, last game - honestly!"

Martyn Williams, asked whether it was decisively farewell from him as well, said: "Yeah, definitely - I'll be up there watching this time next year.

"It hasn't sunk in yet, it's been a pretty emotional day."

Barbarians coach John Kirwan was pleased with his side's performance despite their defeat.

He said: "We got off to a slow start but then the last 60 minutes were pretty special.

"We adjusted to the pace of the game and we fixed things that were going wrong.

"There were a couple of Barbarians-style decisions no to take shots at goals but that's why we are here.

"It was an outstanding performance and I am sure everyone is happy about the spectacle and the Welsh guys are happy to have had a good hit out before their tour."

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