Even Lazarus cannot recover the Grand Slam or the Triple Crown; nevertheless, the Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, was delighted to select Dan Biggar to face Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday after fears of a long lay-off.
Biggar withdrew during the first half of Sunday’s 16-16 draw in Ireland with an ankle injury. The Welsh medical staff initially predicted he would be out for at least three weeks but, with the scans coming back clear, Biggar fashioned an unlikely recovery to earn the biblical moniker from his team-mates.
“We feared the worst after the game when you saw him in a boot and on crutches,” Gatland said. “We spoke to the medics, who thought it was a three to five-week injury. He has worked really hard since the game in terms of his recovery, icing it and stuff.
“He had to get through today’s training, and he did that and looked sharp. I promise you there was no gamesmanship involved with Dan. He has made a miraculous recovery, and the boys have been joking, calling him Lazarus and stuff.”
Biggar was understandably thrilled to defy the best medical advice sport can buy. “It has been a remarkable recovery, really. Limping off on Sunday, I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks’ job. Luckily, it has healed up nicely over the last couple of days.”
Gareth Anscombe comes into the match-day 23 at the expense of his Cardiff Blues colleague Alex Cuthbert and the centre Jonathan Davies wins his 50th cap in an unchanged starting line-up as Gatland seeks a ninth successive victory over the Scots since taking over. This means that the captain, Sam Warburton, will continue in the No 6 jersey, with Justin Tipuric operating on the openside.
“It’s great to see Jonathan reach his 50th cap and continue his impressive international partnership with Jamie [Roberts] in the midfield,” Gatland said.
“We were impressed with the impact from the bench last week, and that will be just as vital this weekend in what is going to be a tough battle,” he added.
“With the six-day turnaround, there was a temptation to make changes, particularly upfront. We discussed that, but we felt we hadn’t started well in the first 20 minutes and got back in the game. So there is an opportunity for those players that started the game to make sure they start well this weekend.
“It’s a reward for some players who put in a great shift in Dublin, while we will be asking a little more of some of the players as well. It is a good opportunity to say last week was OK, but we need to step it up. Emotionally, we have to start better and need to be fired up at home, because Scotland will come at us.”
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