Thursday, 11 February 2016

Wales Benefit from Biggar Recovery

Dan Biggar has been passed fit to play in an unchanged Wales team for Saturday’s Six Nations meeting with Scotland in Cardiff.

Biggar limped off midway through the first half of last weekend’s 16–16 draw with Ireland in Dublin after suffering a sprained ankle, and was replaced by Rhys Priestland.

He trained with the Wales squad on Thursday and the head coach Warren Gatland said: “He had to get through today’s training.

“He has made a miraculous recovery. The boys were joking and calling him Lazarus and stuff. He got through training today and looked sharp. We feared the worst after the game.

"I spoke to the medics, who thought that the injury was a three to five-week injury, but the scan came back clear and he has worked really hard in terms of his recovery.”

With Biggar playing, the only change is on the bench where the Cardiff Blues back Gareth Anscombe, who was ruled out of the Ireland game because of a tight hamstring, replaces Alex Cuthbert.

Biggar was Wales’ star performer during the World Cup and his return to fitness is a major boost for Gatland.

Elsewhere, the coach has again selected the captain Sam Warburton at blindside flanker, with Justin Tipuric wearing the N07 shirt, while the Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee have another opportunity to impress following a strong scrummaging performance against Ireland.

The centre Jonathan Davies wins his 50th cap and lines up alongside his midfield partner Jamie Roberts for the 41st time in Tests, with Anscombe offering versatile back division cover off the bench.

“It’s great to be able to name an unchanged side, with Dan coming through, fit and ready to play,” Gatland said. “It is a reward for some players who put in a great shift in Dublin, while we will be asking a little more of some of the players as well.”

Wales have not lost to Scotland since Gatland took charge in 2008, winning eight successive Tests, while the Scots last triumphed in Cardiff 14 years ago.

Although Wales saw their grand slam and triple crown hopes disappear with the draw in Dublin, they still appear well placed for a major title push

Three of their four remaining games are at home – they also face England at Twickenham on 12 March – with Scotland being followed at the Principality Stadium by France and Italy.

Liam Williams (Scarlets); G North (Northampton), J Davies (Clermont Auvergne), J Roberts (Harlequins), T James (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), S Baldwin (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), L Charteris (Racing), AW Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Wasps), D Lydiate (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Priestland (Bath), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues).

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