Biggar now getting better in Boyd's Northampton rebuild

Sometimes it's the words that don't pass a player's lips that stand out.

Biggar now getting better in Boyd's Northampton rebuild

Sometimes it's the words that don't pass a player's lips that stand out.

As Dan Biggar looked ahead to today's Champions Cup game with Leinster, the Wales out-half spoke in remarkably glowing terms about his 'new' club, the Northampton Saints side he joined one year ago, after 12 seasons with Ospreys.

Top of the Premiership table after the early skirmishes, and boasting a 100% record after two rounds of European competition, the Wales World Cup star was speaking in such a positive way he had to continually correct himself “not to get too carried away”.

But the confidence was there, and the reason, to Biggar at least, is crystal clear.

It's Chris Boyd, the head coach Saints tempted north from Super Rugby side Hurricanes just after Biggar had agreed to move. The Kiwi, along with former Worcester attack coach Sam Vesty, has helped turn Saints from a forward-focused team to one that can mix it with the best across the field.

And speaking just months after Warren Gatland helped Wales to a World Cup semi-final, and earlier a Grand Slam, it was notable how Biggar rated his new coach – while conspicuously avoiding any mention of his former Test – and Lions – coach.

“He's by far the best coach I've ever been involved with,” Biggar said. “He works you really hard, you know you 're coming into work, there's not a free day with your feet up.

“You just see the way he's galvanised this squad from a point of, well...some mediocrity, in terms of the size and strength of this squad... ask any of the boys here, there'll be very little bad to say about Chris.

“There's always lots of positivity, he calls a spade a spade. He is by far the best I've worked with in terms of the whole package. I came here looking at something of a 'project'. It's not like joining Saracens or Leinster – a team that's used to winning, where there's only one way to go, this was a project where I could leave a bit of a stamp on things. I feel I'm a better player and we're given a real licence to go and be positive.”

When Biggar first arrived, Saints were looking forward to a European game against a rather different opposition to today's, with Timisoara Saracens from Romania one of their Pool opponents.

“I wasn't questioning the situation but last year in the Challenge Cup Chris summed it up well ahead of us playing a Romanian side,” Biggar said.

“He told us we needed to be in top six in the Premiership because we don't want to be playing Romanian teams on a Friday night, we want Toulouse, Leinster... selling out grounds. This is what we're all paid to do and hopefully now we can perform. It's a different animal we're facing on Saturday.”

Biggar has enjoyed some of his best days with Leinster as the opposition team – including two PRO12 upsets, when the Ospreys lifted the title in the RDS in 2010 and 2012.

This time around he's facing the Irish province in an English jersey for the first time, and hoping to leave the blues disappointed once more.

“I've had some good days against them but I'm firmly aware we're playing a European super power,” Biggar said. “They know how to win big games, they've big moment players, big game players so we fully respect how good they are and what they've achieved in this competition, that goes without saying.

“But flipping that, what's been really good is we played Lyon, who were coming into the game with eight wins from nine in the Top 14, beating Clermont, Racing, and we knew they had threats but we flipped it and thought I'm sure they'll be saying how do we defend Rory Hutchinson, Cobus Reinach... if we get our stuff right, play up to 9/10 it'll give us a chance of winning a game. We're aware they're a big team, so it's about stopping them physically, and if we let them get a hold in the game, they've a ten who's been one of the best in the world for the last few years, and can make it a long old day.

“So we need to impose our game. We can't just rock up and let Leinster impose their game, we need to make them put as many repeat [defensive] sets in place... and put our game on them."

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