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Dan Biggar: Mourning British and Irish Lions Flying Half Eyes Test Launch in South South Africa

Conference location: Cape Town Stadium Date: Saturday July 24th Start: 17:00 CEST
Cover: Follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Dan Biggar’s earliest memories of the British and Irish Lions are still alive. He spent Saturday mornings at home with his mother Liz having breakfast, while Brian O’Driscoll and Co. Australia ragged in the Gabba.

Biggar’s mother was his biggest fan. From that summer of 2001 together on the sofa to his stellar career as the 92-cap Wales fly half, she was always there for him.

When Liz was hospitalized earlier this year and her son was added to the Lions roster for her tour of South Africa, she told him to go no matter what.

Liz died in May. Following her funeral the following month, Biggar, following his mother’s advice, traveled to South Africa, where he’ll find out this week if he should make his first test appearance for the Lions when they face the Springboks in the series opening on Saturday.

The 31-year-old prefers to wear the number 10 jersey in Cape Town, but it will still be a nervous wait.

And for once, when the hour of truth comes, it won’t be his mother who Biggar calls first to share the news.

“Either way, it gets very emotional,” he says. “That she is not there to see if the choice is going in the right direction and, on the flip side, if the choice is not going in the right direction, you have one less person close to you to relate to can support. “

Biggar will have relied on this emotional support four years ago when touring New Zealand with the Lions but did not appear in any of the three Tests.

He used this disappointment as fuel for club and country. Since 2017, Biggar has won two Six Nations titles – including a Grand Slam – and reached a World Cup semi-finals with Wales, all while developing his attacking game after joining Northampton three years ago.

It is in Biggar’s determined, meticulous nature that he can respond so effectively to a setback like the 2017 Lions Tour.

But while overcoming professional disappointment is one thing, deep personal grief is quite another.

“It was a challenging few weeks before the tour,” adds Biggar.

If you saw him play in South Africa, you wouldn’t know Biggar was in such agony. Nor would you know that he is thousands of miles away from his wife Alex and young son James.

The Welshman’s performances in the warm-up games are composed and authoritative.

It’s partly due to his skill, his tactical instinct, his sheer determination – all of which make him a top international athlete.

But also because Biggar found refuge in rugby during this difficult time.

In his quest for a first Lions test cap, he found solace in one sense.

“That has helped me over the past few months,” he says.

“I had something every day to go to work and focus and take my mind off other things.

“I see it as a really positive step in with both feet and settle everything before a big week.

“That was a really good distraction for me in terms of preparation. I’m fortunate to have a lot of good people around me too, which helps.

“I just hope it’s worth it, not only for me, but also for everyone else who is going through difficult times outside of home and missing families.

“To have a good start for us on Saturday and then to build on that over the course of the weeks would be worthwhile because we are gone so long in such a difficult situation.”

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