Dan Biggar Says Keelan Giles Will Become A World Star But First He Has To Scorch The Scarlets

Dan Biggar has promised the Ospreys will aim to ignite their derby against the Scarlets through the scorching pace of Keelan Giles.

The neighbours and fierce rivals meet at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday with much of the focus on 18-year-old Giles, who has scored 11 tries in seven matches for his region this season.

Wales outside-half Biggar – picked at No.10 ahead of Sam Davies, who is accommodated at full-back – insists Giles can become a global star in the mould of Shane Williams, provided the Ospreys gives him opportunity and time to develop.

That means getting the ball to the teenager in space as often as possible and Biggar has vowed the spirit of adventure that has made his team the top try-scorers in the Guinness Pro12 will continue.

“Keelan is making people feel a lot older these days,” says 27-year-old Biggar. “He is almost nine years younger than me and that brings me down a peg or two.

“But he has been a breath of fresh air in Ospreys and Welsh rugby. He’s got speed like you wouldn’t believe, but he’s also a really gutsy bloke and full of confidence.

“He’s got the potential to be an absolute world star, if he keeps his head down and concentrates on what he needs to do. He’s still only 18, but we are trying to utilise his strengths, which means getting him into as much space as possible, where he can do damage.

“He gives us that bit of X-factor. If we are not quite going in the right direction, we can sling him the ball and he will go and do something special.”

Keelan Giles has scored 11 tries in seven games for the Ospreys. Pic: Getty Images.

That ability has brought obvious comparisons to Williams, who was still four years away from his Wales debut when he was at the same age Giles is now.

But Williams went onto play 91 Tests for Wales and the Lions and Biggar adds: “Keelan very much reminds me of Shane. He’s a similar size and physique.

“He has similar confidence, too. But you have to be careful, because Shane Williams was an absolute one of a kind.

“So, we should keep Keelan’s feet on the ground and talk about potential. It’s about what he could become, not what he is yet. We need to keep using him, keep putting him into situations where he can run at people, one-on-one, and those comparisons will continue.”

With Giles as their sharpest of cutting edges, the Ospreys have managed 45 tries in the Pro12 season – seven more than leaders Munster.

Biggar says the reliance on tries and bonus points is not a happy accident, but a result of a change in emphasis agreed by a squad frustrated by their own shortcomings in recent campaigns.

“What we have missed out on in the last couple of years is the ability to score enough tries.

“That’s why we have missed out on the top four. We relied on kicking goals too much. So, we have focused on being more positive and more bold.

“If we have a team on the ropes, we now kick to the corner, or tap and go. We look for seven points instead of three.

“This derby is going to be two teams full of confidence and good form. I’m really excited for fans, players and everyone involved in the game.”

Biggar says he has not been surprised by the Scarlets’ upturn in results, which sees them seeking their eighth successive Pro12 victory.

“I was more surprised by the Scarlets’ indifferent start than their recent good form. To beat Toulon, a European heavyweight, was the Scarlets’ best achievement of the season so far.

“They’re coming to us in very good form, but that’s a challenge that we embrace because we always back ourselves at home.”

Biggar says he is expecting some stick from Scarlets fans who enjoy goading him, but insists he, and his region, will feed off the atmosphere of a full house.

“We’re not gifted in Wales with having huge crowds all the time. When you play, say, Edinburgh on a Friday night, the crowd is sometimes not as good as you would hope it to be.

“But the Christmas games are great, because you know you are going to get full houses, a bit of banter with the opposition fans, and the chance to get stuck into your Wales teammates.

“Hopefully, we can do it justice and it’s not a damp squib. I have fond memories if this derby from when I was a little kid and it was Swansea against Llanelli. And recently, we have a pretty good record against them at home.”

The Scarlets may have beaten Toulon in their last game, but head coach Wayne Pivac says only those standards will provide a repeat of last season’s win at the Liberty Stadium.

“It went well [at the Liberty] last season but it’s a new game, we have to make sure we start well and the set piece goes well so we can play off it,” he said.

“Swinging back into the PRO12 it certainly is a massive game. We’ve got players who play together in the Welsh set-up, both teams know each other inside out. It’s certainly one of the biggest games of the season if not the biggest.”

Ospreys: Sam Davies; Keelan Giles; Ashley Beck; Josh Matavesi; Dan Evans; Dan Biggar, Brendon Leonard; Nicky Smith; Sam Parry, Ma’afu Fia, Rory Thornton, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James King, Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Lloyd Ashley, Olly Cracknell, Sam Underhill, Tom Habberfield, Kieron Fonotia

Scarlets: Liam Williams, Johnny Mcnicholl, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Ken Owens [C], Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, John Barclay

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Josh Macleod, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Steff Evans

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)


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