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Dan Biggar has underlined his desire to be part of Wales’ 2023 World Cup campaign as he nears a century of Test match appearances.
Biggar will line up for the 98th time in Wales or British and Irish Lions colours when Australia arrive at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
And the fly-half continues to relish playing for club and country, excelling in the Gallagher Premiership at Northampton and thriving as Wales’ tactical controller.
“I turned 32 last month, but I don’t feel 32 when I am training or playing,” Biggar said.
“I feel as if I have become a better player since going to Northampton. I’ve learnt more about myself since going there, and I feel good.
“I feel like I have still got tons and tons to give, and if I can get to that World Cup – I would like to think that is realistic.
“Coming off the back of a successful Six Nations last season, I think that’s a realistic aim. When I stop training, I feel 32, but when I am in amongst it I certainly don’t feel like that.
“I am fully aware I am in the latter stages of my career, and I know exactly what makes my game tick and things.”
Wales’ injury-hit autumn campaign – more than 15 players are absent for the Australia game – has seen a number of young, inexperienced players step up and perform in the unforgiving Test match arena.
And Biggar enjoys a mentor-type role, adding: “You feel you inherit it when you become a senior player and been around the block a little bit.
“For me, it is nice to be able to pass on because I always feel when I was a 19–20-year-old coming through you were desperate for some support, help and sometimes a bit of motivation as well.
“It is not all about putting arms around people and things, sometimes it’s a bit of a kick up the backside and sometimes it is about getting guys fired up and getting boys used to what international rugby is all about.
“It is sometimes digging in and grinding through some tough times as well.”
Biggar kicked a match-winning penalty four minutes from time when Australia last visited Cardiff three years ago, and he anticipates another intense contest.
“They are a very skilful side, and we know they are going to come with a big pack of forwards and try to disrupt us,” he said.
“In behind, they have some very talented backs in terms of James O’Connor, who seems to have been around forever. Andrew Kellaway has been in really good form for them, and Kurtley Beale is one of those experienced campaigners.
“So they are going to have lots of tricks up their sleeves with a very well-coached team.”
And as someone in the goldfish bowl of Welsh international rugby, Biggar knows all about the microscope currently on his other great sporting passion – Manchester United.
Regular trips to Old Trafford included on one occasion having dinner with fellow United fan Usain Bolt, but it has so far proved a challenging season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
Asked if he had any tips for the manager, Biggar added: “I thought Welsh rugby was complicated – now we are into a real battle! I don’t think he would accept much advice from me.
“It is the same as everyone has got an opinion on the Welsh outside-half or Welsh rugby.
“It’s like that at the minute with them (United). I don’t know why he bothers doing his job – he has got 10 million people who can clearly do it better than him!”