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Paul Grayson column: Why Dan Biggar can be mane man for Lions in South Africa


A Lions squad nobody would have predicted but one with a playmaker at the top of his game in Dan Biggar.

Johnny Sexton’s omission rightly caused debate given what a brilliant job he has done as starting fly-half in five of the six Tests on the last two tours.

But in Biggar coach Warren Gatland has picked the guy who I believe is playing the outstanding rugby in that position.

I have no hesitation in making Dan the frontrunner for the Test No.10 slot and not just because of Wales’ march to the Six Nations title.

I work with him at Northampton and have seen the way he’s developed his game since he joined the club, adding an extra dimension to his attacking play.



World Cup winner Paul Grayson's column is brought in association with CINCH
World Cup winner Paul Grayson’s column is brought in association with CINCH



He has surprised me in how open he still is to learn. He’s a born winner, one who I guarantee won’t waste a day from now until he retires – which will be as long as he wants to play.

He is a Test match animal and a strong Lions team with a Gatland approach I think will suit him down to the ground.

Warren spoke yesterday about the physical challenge and how tough this squad will need to be outmuscle the world champions.



Biggar in Lions action on New Zealand tour in 2017
Biggar in Lions action on New Zealand tour in 2017

He has no need to worry about Biggar. When Northampton played Leicester the other week he nearly snapped his leg off when Nemani Nadolo ran into him.

He looked up, realised there were no subs left on the bench and said ‘right, leave me on’.

He ended up making the game-saving tap tackle, partly with his hands and partly with his face.



Biggar celebrates Wales' seismic victory over England at 2015 World Cup
Biggar celebrates Wales’ seismic victory over England at 2015 World Cup

That is the commitment the Lions will need to show. For while South Africa have not had a match since the World Cup final, these Lions have never played together.

Yet I look down the list of players – big, tough, physical men – and like what I see.

This is a squad capable of winning this series. The Springboks don’t just play one way, as England discovered in the 2019 World Cup final.

But Gatland understands that if you can’t match their physicality you have no chance of beating them – and he has ticked that box.





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