Biggar gets chance against New Zealand

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The Independent Online

Dan Biggar faces the biggest challenge of his short career after being handed the Wales number 10 jersey for Saturday's series finale against New Zealand in Hamilton.

The Ospreys fly-half has been given the nod ahead of veteran Stephen Jones, who has been nursing a thumb injury he suffered in last weekend's 42-9 first Test loss to the All Blacks and has been named on the bench.

Saturday's match at Waikato Stadium will be Biggar's third start for his country since making his debut off the bench against Canada in November 2008.

He started against the same opposition on last year's tour of North America and was a replacement against the United States the following week.

His only other appearance in the starting XV came against Samoa last November so taking on New Zealand - and possibly going toe-to-toe with Dan Carter if he's passed fit on Thursday - will be a big step up in class for the 20-year-old.

But one of Wales' most successful fly-halves, Neil Jenkins, the current kicking coach for the national side, is backing the youngster to perform in one of world rugby's toughest environments.

"He doesn't need any words of advice from me," Jenkins said. "He's a confident young man. I've known him since he was 14 ... he's a fantastic young player.

"I'm sure he'll have a little bit of nerves but again he'll see it as a huge challenge and playing against someone like Dan Carter you're only going to learn from that."

The only other change to the side that suffered at Carisbrook sees Jonathan Davies replace the injured Andrew Bishop (broken hand) at centre.

Coach Warren Gatland, back in his home town this week, has opted to stick with the same forward pack that pushed the All Blacks for a large part of last week's Test.

The home side, however, pulled away in a rampant second-half display of counter-attacking rugby to eventually outscore the Welsh by five tries to none.

There are four changes to the bench with Jones swapping with Biggar, Dragons wing Will Harries coming in for the promoted Davies and Blues scrum-half Richie Rees replacing Tavis Knoyle.

Ospreys prop Craig Mitchell replaces John Yapp who injured his left ankle in training on Tuesday.

Huw Bennett, Deiniol Jones and Rob McCusker are all retained from last weekend meaning hooker Ken Owens and lock Ian Gough are the only two players in the 27-man squad to get no game time on the two-Test tour.

"This is a magnificent place to tour and we have received a wonderful welcome in Hamilton after being involved in a tough game against New Zealand last week," said Gatland.

"There is a lot of mutual respect amongst the players and the people of New Zealand and Wales and we are two nations who love our rugby, but you don't get respect in this country, collectively or individually, unless you perform on the pitch here.

"We want to leave here with our heads held high after Saturday and with the respect of the New Zealand nation and we will only do that if we perform as individuals and collectively on the pitch."