Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

McBryde wants Biggar to show class

Dan Biggar has so far been ignored by the British and Irish Lions

Wales tour coach Robin McBryde has urged Dan Biggar to prove a point to the British and Irish Lions selectors against Japan this weekend.

The Six Nations-winning fly-half was again overlooked by Warren Gatland who called up England's Billy Twelvetrees to provide back line cover for the injury-hit Lions in Australia. Now McBryde has backed the 23-year-old Biggar to use the blow as motivation as a second-string Wales seek a series win over the Brave Blossoms in Tokyo on Saturday.

McBryde said: "The initial Lions selection suggested they left enough room to invite one or two more as there are always injuries. But all Dan can do is prove a point on Saturday and hopefully we, as a team, will benefit from that."

He added: "We've asked him to put his stamp on this game. We've given him a licence to step up, take on his role as a leader within the team and play things as he sees it."

McBryde has also challenged his players to finish the season with victory having made five changes, including one positional, following an unconvincing 22-18 win in Osaka last week.

He said: "It would be a setback to lose. We came here as a young group of players and coaches and everyone has stepped up, considering how many players and back-room staff have gone with the Lions. It is a great learning curve for us all but we need to finish on a high with a good quality performance otherwise there will be too much unsaid from our point of view.

"We need to get our own house in order, start the game better and be more accurate. I believe we'll do that because we've learned lessons and the players have addressed them this week. The intention of this tour was to identify team leaders, ask them to step up and take on extra responsibility and they have done that this week."

McBryde has re-shuffled his back-row that were outperformed by the Brave Blossoms. James King is the only survivor, though is picked in his preferred position at blindside flanker. Uncapped 22-year-old openside flanker Josh Navidi is handed his debut while Cardiff Blues team-mate Andries Pretorius starts for the first time.

Saracens prop Rhys Gill wins only his fourth cap in four years while wing Tom Prydie plays for the first time since shortly after he became the youngest Wales international aged just 18 years and 25 days when he capped against Italy in 2010.

He starts opposite Japan's fit-again captain Toshiaki Hirose, the only change to the side edged out by the Welsh in Osaka.

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