Dan Biggar to captain injury-hit Wales in Six Nations

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Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar has been named as Wales captain for this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Biggar takes over from an injured Alun Wyn Jones, who is among a number of high-profile absentees.

Other players not part of the squad due to injuries include Jones’ fellow British and Irish Lions George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Wales v Australia – Autumn International – Principality Stadium
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named a 36-man squad (David Davies/PA)

But flanker Ross Moriarty, who has not played since the autumn due to a shoulder problem, does make Wales head coach Wayne Pivac’s 36-man group.

The squad includes three uncapped players in hooker Dewi Lake, his Ospreys colleague – flanker Jac Morgan – and Cardiff number eight James Ratti.

Jones has undergone two shoulder operations since being hurt during Wales’ Autumn Nations Series opener against New Zealand in October.

Hooker Owens, meanwhile, has a back problem, while Tipuric and Navidi have shoulder issues, North and Halfpenny are recovering from knee injuries and Faletau has not played this season because of ankle trouble.

Biggar is set to lead Wales for the first time in the opening game of their Six Nations title defence against Ireland in Dublin on February 5. Ospreys lock Adam Beard will be Biggar’s vice-captain.

Another five players could be in line to make their Six Nations bows – a list that includes Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza and Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts.

On 32-year-old Biggar’s appointment, Pivac said: “In terms of captaincy, we’ve named Dan Biggar.

“With the experience missing, we wanted someone who had experienced the competition on a number of occasions and knows the rigours of it.

Northampton Saints v Ulster – Heineken Champions Cup – Pool A – cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar will lead Wales in the Six Nations (David Davies/PA)

“He gives us that. He has 95 Wales caps and he has toured with the British and Irish Lions.

“Dan has the respect of the other players and management, so we think he will do a great job.”

Wales’ first home game is against Scotland on February 12, with the Welsh government announcing last week that spectators can return to matches following a lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions that took effect on Boxing Day.

Pivac added: “It’s fantastic news that we will continue to have crowds at Principality Stadium. We have the most incredible fans, and the atmosphere they create is second to none.

“The Guinness Six Nations is a very special competition and we want to go out and win, like every other nation.

“This is tournament rugby, so it is about working hard in training and preparing well each week.

“Last year, the Six Nations offered fans an exciting brand of rugby with lots of tries, and while we know we have five tough matches ahead and the margins in Test rugby are fine, we are looking forward to the challenge.

“With the World Cup on the horizon next year, every match will be important for development on the road to France.”