Wales and Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar is set to quit Welsh rugby for English giants Northampton Saints, in a deal that would see him leave his home region according to Wales Online.
The experienced number ten has been with the Ospreys for nearly a decade, and has made over 200 appearances for them since making his debut way back in 2008.
Swansea-born Biggar, the youngest player to reach a 100 games for the region, has amassed an outstanding 2,052 points for them. His long service at Wales’ most successful region yielding two Pro12 titles for the 56-times capped star.
Biggar, who impressed in New Zealand with the Lions this summer, is contracted to the Ospreys and the Welsh Rugby Union under a national dual contract until next May. And the 27-year-old has the option of staying in Swansea until the end of the 2018-19 season.
But it now appears that the 2013 Grand Slam winner is unlikely to take up this option, with a move to England becoming increasingly likely.
The Saints, coached by Jim Mallinder, have been interested in acquiring the combative back for a while, and a move to the east-Midlands would see Biggar join up with Welsh teammate George North.
And they are said to be willing to match this interest with hard cash, willing to table a substantial offer that the 27-year-old would be unable to turn down.
While the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership champions seem to be well-stocked at out-half with the reliable Stephen Myler and exciting youngster Harry Mallinder, Northampton obviously feel that the experienced Biggar could bring something extra to the team.
And with England skipper Dylan Hartley having penned a new deal with the club, the capture of Biggar would be a further boost to Jim Mallinder, as the club seek to build on a disappointing seventh-place finish last season.
With the excellent Sam Davies and returning veteran James Hook as well as youngster Luke Price at the region, the blow of losing a player of Biggar’s calibre would be cushioned.
The move would certainly be of benefit to former IRB Junior World Player of the Year Sam Davies, who would get the opportunity to play week in week out at number ten, and further stake his claim for the Wales out-half shirt.
One obvious downside on a move to England would be that he would likely be captured by Gatland’s law, a law which was set-up to try and keep Wales’ best talent in the principality. This means that only a limited number of non-Welsh based players can be selected by the Welsh coach as ‘wildcards’ for each international window, with Gatland having four ‘wildcard’ picks at his disposal for the next couple of years.
Only players who are not offered a deal by a Welsh-based regions or those who signed a deal with a non-Welsh club before the law was established in 2014, are not captured under the law.
But with an option of a further one-year stay available under Biggar’s current contract, it would appear that he would be captured and would thus have to rely on being one of Gatland’s ‘wildcard’ picks.
And even if the one-year option at the end of his current contract didn’t capture him, it is very likely that the Ospreys and Wales would offer him another national dual contract.
With a World Cup only two years away, the move could be a risk.
But if he can stay fit and remain in good form, as Gatland’s preferred choice, it is pretty likely that he would earn a ‘wildcard’ pick and start at half-back in Japan.
A move to one of the best leagues in the world and an opportunity to test himself in another environment would only benefit the Wales stalwart. Famous for his competitive streak and his desire to win, Biggar loves a challenge.
After such a long time in the Welsh game, and with sources in the East Midlands claiming that the deal being spoken about is one the Ospreys and Wales would be unable to compete with, the move would seem to make sense for the Welshman.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
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Read More About: aviva premiership, dan biggar, dylan hartley, george north, Guiness Pro12, harry mallinder, james hook, jim mallinder, northampton saints, Ospreys Rugby, sam davies, Stephen Myler, warren gatland