Dan Biggar has been named in the Lions squad for the Test series against South Africa.
Dan Biggar is playing for the British and Irish Lions in South Africa. He has had a tough time with injuries, but he is now on the verge of getting his first Test start since 2014.
|Cape Town Stadium is the venue for this match. Saturday, July 24th is the date. 17:00 BST kick-off|
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Dan Biggar recalls his first recollections of watching the British and Irish Lions. Saturday mornings were spent at home with his mother, Liz, having breakfast as Brian O’Driscoll and his teammates racked up the points at the Gabba.
Biggar’s mother was his greatest supporter. She was always there for him, from that summer on the couch in 2001 through his great career as a 92-cap Wales fly-half.
When Liz was sent to the hospital earlier this year and her son was selected to the Lions team for their upcoming tour to South Africa, she urged him to go.
Liz passed away in May. Biggar followed his mother’s advice and traveled to South Africa after her burial the following month, where he will learn this week whether he will make his maiden Test debut for the Lions against the Springboks in the series opener on Saturday.
In Cape Town, the 31-year-old is the favorite to wear the number 10 jersey, but it will be a nerve-wracking wait.
And when the moment of truth comes, Biggar will not contact his mother first to inform her of the news.
“Either way, it’ll be extremely emotional,” he adds. “That she won’t be there to see if the selection goes well, and that if it doesn’t, you’ll have one fewer person to rely on if it doesn’t.”
When Biggar visited New Zealand with the Lions four years ago but did not play in any of the three Tests, he could have relied on that emotional support.
He used his disappointment as motivation for his club and nation. Since joining Northampton three years ago, Biggar has won two Six Nations championships, including a Grand Slam, and reached a World Cup semi-final with Wales, while also developing his offensive style.
Biggar’s determined, methodical character allows him to react so well to adversity, such as the 2017 Lions tour.
But, while surviving a professional setback is one thing, dealing with deep emotional sorrow is quite another.
“It was a difficult couple of weeks leading up to the trip,” Biggar says.
When you see Biggar play in South Africa, you’d never guess he’s been through so much. You’d never guess he’d done it hundreds of miles away from his wife Alex and their little kid James.
In the warm-up matches, the Welshman has been calm and authoritative.
It’s partially due to his talent, tactical acumen, and pure willpower, all of which combine to make him a top international athlete.
But also because rugby has provided Biggar with a safe haven during this trying period.
He’s found comfort in a sense of purpose in his quest for his maiden Lions Test cap.
He adds, “That’s what’s helped me over the past several months.”
“I’ve had something to concentrate on and keep my mind off other things every day at work.”
“I view it as a tremendous plus in terms of diving right in and having things in order ahead of a big week.”
“It’s been a great diversion for me as I’ve been preparing.” I’m also fortunate to have a lot of nice people in my life, which helps.
“I really hope it’s beneficial, not only for myself, but for everyone else who is dealing with difficult times away from home and missing family.”
“It would be beneficial for us to get off to a strong start on Saturday and then build on it in the coming weeks after being gone for so long in such a difficult circumstance.”