Biggar the better takes on leading role

Schoolboy actor plays part at No 10 and can put on a show for Wales in absence of 'Hollywood' Henson
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The Independent Online

The telephone handset was returned to its cradle – the M4 was snowbound, you see, or the interview would have been in Swansea in person – and immediately there came the slapped-head moment. "Curses! Forgot to ask him about Gavin Henson." But the redial button went unpressed. Dan Biggar had said and given enough. In an imaginary edition of A Question of Sport, Henson would be the mystery personality or even occupy the archive round. Biggar belongs to the much more exciting category of "what happens next?".

So here's a starter for the Ospreys No 10, the 20-year-old successor to Henson for his region and a potential match-winner for Wales. Where does Biggar see himself in Wales' fly-half pecking order? "I've succeeded with my plan to oust James [Hook] as fly-half for the Ospreys," he replied, "by quietly going about my business. As for Wales, there was no doubt Stephen Jones was the No 1 fly-half going into the autumn. I feel I'm doing as well as I can to push Steve for that role, and that was my aim at the start of the season. I would love to be included in the Six Nations squad."

The squad is likely to be announced the week after next, in between rounds five and six of the Heineken Cup, in which Biggar and the Ospreys have make-or-break matches away to Clermont Auvergne and at home to Leicester. The sometimes frustrating but always headline-making region appear to have clicked under new coach Scott Johnson and with former All Black flanker Jerry Collins minding the youthful Biggar, with five wins on the hoof – or should that be talon? – Wales' perennially super-charged meeting with England, which is at Twickenham on the first Saturday in February, can wait just for now.

"Clermont will be a new challenge. I was on the bench in Perpignan last season but playing and watching in France are two different things," said Biggar, who studied drama at A-level – and, frankly, you can tell. "It does reflect the personality which comes out on the field. I am completely a team player but if you ask me what I enjoy about playing No 10, it is taking charge of the team. I enjoy the responsibility and I enjoy directing play. You can teach all the skill in the world but what you can't teach is taking responsibility for all the guys and playing the game the way you want to play it."

He chuckled that it would be journalistic licence to imagine him as "a West End star in Les Misérables" on the back of ensemble playing of Mickey, Edward and the narrator in Blood Brothers at school. "If I could choose my own role? It would probably be James Bond. There's not many boys my age who wouldn't want to be James Bond."

Daniel Craig is safe for now, and while the Hollywood-connected Henson continues on indefinite leave – bringing up babies with Charlotte Church and messing about on boats in Swansea Bay – Biggar is booming. A notable win over a near full-strength Munster was followed by derby victories over the Scarlets in Llanelli – Stephen Jones pranged a shoulder but should be fit this week – and Cardiff Blues (26-0). Ryan Jones, Lee Byrne and Adam Jones have recently returned from injury to boost the cause.

At an imposing 6ft and a bit, similar to Toby Flood or Danny Cipriani, Biggar is a general of a fly-half; an order-barking organiser of the type the Wales coach, Warren Gatland, is known to favour after working with Stephen Jones, Alex King, Stephen Donald and Ronan O'Gara. Biggar has honed his goal-kicking with the legendary Neil Jenkins, but what about that surname, which recalls Scotland's Alistair and Mike in the 1970s? "I feel Welsh through and through," Biggar said, "though there's a Scottish great, great ancestor a long way back – and we did live near Aberdeen when I was two or three."

When he was "16 or 17" he turned down a contract with Harlequins, deciding he was too young to forsake his Swansea roots and the Ospreys' academy for "a strange place up in London". It has worked out fine. After starring alongside Leigh Halfpenny for Wales Under-20s, Biggar won his senior cap against Canada in November 2008 and faced the same opposition and the USA on tour last June.

His first home start, in Wales's 17-13 defeat of Samoa two months ago, was a mixed bag. "It will be remembered for my interception pass [to Samoa's Seilala Mapusua when Wales were attacking with a 17-6 lead] and I had a shaky minute with a dodgy restart. But I felt a little hard done by. I felt I made very few errors in the game." Indeed his first-half cross-kick to Halfpenny for a try on David Lemi's wing was millimetre-perfect; a smoothly executed set-play off a line-out.

The Ospreys have another young fly-half coming along in Gareth Owen, and the much-lauded Hook has had to settle for being full-back with Wales and inside centre for the region. Last week Cardiff Blues made a bid for Hook which, like the dog walking on its hind legs, was less interesting for the "no" it received than that they did it at all. Add it to some Ospreys' dearest wish that we should all be asking "Gavin who?" and it is clear that Dan Biggar is providing a lot of answers.

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