Wales tour to Australia
Jenkins heaps praise on Biggar
May 14, 2012
Fly-half Dan Biggar steered the Ospreys into the RaboDirect PRO12 final last weekend © PA Photos
Skills coach Neil Jenkins has hailed the strides made by Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar following his return to the Wales squad for next month's clashes with the Barbarians and Australia.
Biggar, 22, won the most recent of his nine caps in the December defeat to the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium, but was not included in the squad for the victorious Six Nations campaign having also missed out on last year's World Cup. However, he has been in outstanding form for his region in recent weeks, most recently grabbing a 25-point haul in his side's 45-10 RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final demolition of reigning champions Munster last Friday night.
And he has been rewarded with a place in caretaker head coach Rob Howley's initial 38-man panel for Wales' summer schedule. Wales will face the Barbarians in Cardiff on June 2, after which the squad will be trimmed to 34 for three Tests against the Wallabies and a midweek fixture against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Jenkins, one of Wales' greatest fly-halves and his country's record points scorer, feels Biggar thoroughly deserves his place. "I was impressed with him on the weekend against Munster," he said. "We all know about Dan's kicking skills, he is one of the best kickers in the game at goal, out of hand and on restarts.
"But we've always said we would like him to be more of a threat with ball in hand and he is certainly doing that. He is having a pop at the defensive line and varying his game well. He is maturing well on and off the pitch and is on top of his game at the moment."
Howley, who is in charge while head coach Warren Gatland recuperates from the injuries he suffered in a fall at his home in New Zealand, also hailed the progress Biggar has made in recent months. "I spoke to (Ospreys coach) Steve Tandy last week and spoke about numerous Ospreys players who are playing well, including Dan," he said.
"As a number 10 behind a pack going forward he is showing the form which he showed when he was first selected for Wales. He has been out of the national squad for a while and I am sure he will be enthusiastic to come back in and he has matured over the last 12 months as a player and a person."
The Wales squad will meet up on May 21, with the exception of Biggar and his Ospreys colleagues as they will be preparing to face Leinster in the RaboDirect Pro12 final on May 27. Biggar will be hoping to use his selection as a springboard to move up the pecking order behind current first-choice fly-half Rhys Priestland, with Wales' record cap holder Stephen Jones' Test career seemingly over.
Howley's main injury concerns are the Scarlets trio of Matthew Rees, Jon Davies and Scott Williams. Hooker Rees has an ankle injury, while centres Davies and Williams have hernia and shoulder problems respectively.
Wales' 38-man training squad for Barbarians game on June 2 and Australia tour:
Backs: A Beck (Ospreys), D Biggar (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys), A Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), W Harries (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Hook (Perpignan), G North (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne), R Priestland (Scarlets), H Robinson (Cardiff Blues), R Webb (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
Forwards: R Bevington (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), I Evans (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Gill (Saracens), R Hibbard (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), K Owens (Scarlets), M Rees (Scarlets), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), M Williams (Cardiff Blues.
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