South Africa v Wales: Dan Biggar aims to seize Springboks series chance
|Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town Date: Saturday, 16 July Kick-off: 16:05 BST|
|Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio Wales Extra – available via BBC Sounds, 882 MW and BBC Sport Online, Radio Cymru plus live text and match report on the BBC Sport website|
Wales captain Dan Biggar knows occasions like series deciders in South Africa do not come around very often.
He also knows that at the age of 32, there might not be many more chances to achieve a little bit of history.
Biggar has already become the first captain to lead a Wales men’s side to a victory over the Springboks in South Africa after they celebrated a 13-12 win in Bloemfontein to level the series.
Now, after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in that game, the fly-half is hoping to help Wales become the first of the nations that make up the Lions to win a series in South Africa, with Ireland, Scotland and England never having managed the feat either.
“I am the first to admit it, for boys like myself, you are not going to have too many more opportunities,” said Biggar.
“That’s why I have tried to enjoy the whole tour and atmosphere because you never know when it’s going to be your last and you want to enjoy every moment.
“It has been a great tour and I have loved it. We have come together as a group, played some decent rugby, mixed it up and not taken a backward step.
“Standing there for the anthem at the first Test in Loftus [Versfeld] was the best atmosphere I have ever had for a game, the best place I have ever played. It was brilliant and I am glad I can say I was part of that.
“Then the first win ever in South Africa against the Springboks and I suppose we have got a little bit greedy off the back of that. We want to try and ram it home and have a special occasion.
“So whether you are coming towards the end like myself or [you are] the young guys coming through, it is equally special.
“It would be amazing to finish off a long season on a high. Hopefully we can lie on the beach next week and the atmosphere on that beach will be a bit brighter than if we don’t get it done.”
Though Wales have the chance to achieve something special, Biggar believes they can play with freedom.
“I have said to the guys it’s not a free hit but we go out there with no pressure on our shoulders,” added Biggar.
“We go out there and try and apply as much pressure as we can on South Africa and see how they respond, rather than us getting uptight and tense.
“It is a huge occasion on Saturday and we have to make sure we enjoy it, play with a bit of freedom, be sensible and disciplined but go out and pile into everything.”
The majority of this crop of Wales players have been here before, whether in a series decider or knockout game against South Africa.
They have tended to go the same way, with agonising narrow defeats for Wales against Springbok sides.
The 2015 World Cup quarter-final defeat at Twickenham was followed by semi-final heartbreak in Japan four years later, when Handre Pollard kicked a late penalty to complete a 19-16 win.
“It is difficult to reference previous games because it is different teams and eras but the games have been so tight between us over the years,” said Biggar.
“The World Cup semi-final was the big one. There have been some tough ones to take over the years against these guys, with one-score games.
“I am hoping [that on] Saturday we have built up enough momentum and belief in the squad to get it over the line.”
As well as Welsh disappointments, there was the British and Irish Lions series-deciding defeat against South Africa in 2021, which was played in front of an empty Cape Town stadium because of Covid-19 regulations.
Biggar started all three Tests in the 2-1 series loss and was forced off injured early in the decider.
“It was difficult last year,” admitted Biggar.
“They all just felt like training matches and it was a tough tour. The stadium is magnificent and deserving of a full house so hopefully it will make it a special occasion.”
Biggar accepts Wales have surprised people by winning in South Africa to give themselves a chance this weekend.
After completing the Six Nations with a home defeat to Italy in March and finishing fifth in the tournament, Wayne Pivac’s side were widely tipped to struggle in South Africa
“Not many people believed in us before when the plane touched down a few weeks ago,” added Biggar.
“It was important we started the tour well. Maybe we needed that performance in Pretoria to install some belief in the squad as well.
“Where the squad is from when we first landed to now, there is every belief we can go and win on Saturday.
“I am not saying we will win, but there is the belief we can. We copped a fair bit of stick after that Six Nations and it would be nice to get this done for the group.”