DAN Biggar has been given the Wales No 10 jersey for Saturday’s Six Nations opener at home to Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.
The Ospreys outside half got the nod ahead of Perpignan fly half James Hook who has to be content with a place on the bench again.
Biggar will win his 12th cap on the weekend in what will be his Six Nations debut, five years after the 23-year-old made his first international start.
Hook, 27, hasn’t started at outside half for Wales since the 21-18 defeat to Australia in the bronze final at the 2011 World Cup.
Wales name their team for Saturday’s game tomorrow afternoon.
Rhys Priestland had seemed bullet-proof in the fly half position for Wales since the summer of 2011, a meteoric rise saw him elevated from the Scarlets’ second choice No 10 to international golden boy.
Even a string of poor performances couldn’t shift him from pole position.
But Priestland has undergone surgery after being carried off in the Scarlets’ Heineken Cup home defeat by Exeter on December 8 and is ruled out of the Six Nations with an injured Achilles tendon. That meant a duel between Biggar and Hook would take his place for the most famous Wales shirt of all.
And, as widely expected, Biggar has won that battle after a fine season for the Ospreys.
That’s not to say Hook isn’t playing well and he scored 18 points in Perpignan’s 26-19 home victory over Clermont Auvergne on Friday night.
That victory ensured the Catalan side stayed in the race for the Top 14 play-offs while it was only the high flying, Heineken Cup favourites’ fourth loss in all competitions this season.
Despite winning 67 caps and two Grand Slams, the supremely talented Hook has never managed to make the Wales No 10 jersey his own despite being Perpignan’s playmaker since his move to the South of France from the Ospreys in 2011.