RaboDirect Pro12: Ospreys heading in right direction, insists Biggar

RaboDirect Pro12: Dan Biggar believes Ospreys are heading in the right direction despite a surprise loss to Zebre

By Gareth Llewellyn

Dan Biggar believes the Ospreys are heading in the right direction despite a surprise defeat by Zebre ending their hopes of reaching the RaboDirect Pro12 play-offs this season.

In their 30-27 defeat in Parma, centre Andrew Bishop was the only starter in the backline over the age of 24, but the senior players have been at pains to avoid excuses including the relative inexperience of many players in the starting XV.

I think that six months or a year down the line we will be in a much better place than we were at the start of this season

Dan Biggar

Ospreys and Wales outside-half Biggar has already played almost 150 games for the south Wales region despite turning 24 in October, but he insists the relatively young squad will be even better next season.

“Another pre-season for this group, and more game time together, and you’ll see the boys coming on leaps and bounds, I have no doubt about that,” Biggar told Ospreysrugby.com.

“Look at how far some of them have come on this season after being in the environment and stepping up to play for the Ospreys.

“A lot of them are 19, 20, and this is their first season of professional rugby, but look how far they’ve come in a short period of time. This time next year they’ll be that much further down the line.”

This weekend’s match at home to Connacht will be the last in another trophy-shy season for the fifth-place Ospreys and the region owes much to Biggar for getting them so close to another crack at the title.

Biggar has already picked up the Worthington’s Supporters’ Player of the Year award and a nomination for the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Year award on his way to again topping the points-scoring chart and earning a place in the Pro12 Dream Team.

But personal accolades never come before the squad for Wales’ most successful region and he concedes that, at times, the senior players haven’t stepped up to help the youngsters.

“There’s no place to learn like out on the pitch in high pressure games and, with the support of the coaches and the older players, they can use this to come out the other side stronger,” Biggar added.

“Let’s not think for one minute that we are using the younger players as an excuse for the loss, or pointing the finger. As senior players we didn’t deliver either on some occasions. We’ve got to get that balance right.

“This year has been great for discovering what options we have, discovering people’s strengths and weaknesses, and I think that six months or a year down the line we will be in a much better place than we were at the start of this season.”

The Ospreys have already lost former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who left the club earlier this week to join up with Aviva Premiership hopefuls Bristol—led by former Ospreys coach Sean Holley—ahead of their play-off push.

Current head coach Steve Tandy will also see lock Ian Evans head to Toulon in the summer with hooker Richard Hibbard and centre Tom Isaacs off to Gloucester and could also lose
Wales prop Adam Jones.

But 13 players—many of them young players on the fringes this season—have agreed new deals with the club this year and the belief is firmly that the new crop of players coming through the region’s development systems can lead the charge to more glory.

“I know it sounds strange off the back of a defeat in Zebre but I am genuinely hugely, hugely excited about next season and the talent we’ve got coming through and what we can achieve with a bit more time together and a bit more experience under the belt,” Biggar said.

“We’ll get there, I am absolutely 100 per cent sure about that. There is some outstanding talent coming through at the region and it is being integrated into the squad.

“Circumstances mean that’s happening maybe a little faster than would have been the case otherwise, but I don’t think anyone could argue that we have a talented group of young players who will learn from disappointment like we went through on Friday night.”

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