Dan Biggar’s arrival at Northampton Saints won’t help pilot the Midlanders back to the higher echelons of the English game, says Stuart Barnes.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Barnes said: “Great news for the Saints even if they have to wait a year.
“In Dan Biggar they have finally signed a high-profile fly-half.
“Northampton have needed an outstanding, top-of-the-range model for years.
“But are his qualities the right kind for the Saints? Is he the right fit? That is another question.
“From his perspective there are a couple of decent reasons for joining an English team who have consistently declined in recent years.
“He mentions one of them when saying ‘playing in a town and surrounding area which has a massive passion for rugby was a huge attraction’.
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“The other reason he doesn’t mention. Money.
“It may be vulgar to mention the filthy lucre but the 27-year-old has a chance to boost the pension pot.
“Few would resent Biggar his payday. In a hard man’s world he has earned it.
“So a great fit for the man himself, but I am not sure he is the ideal fly-half for Northampton.
“Amid the many strengths to his game, there are weaknesses.
“Foremost among them he’s been an antipathy to approaching the gain line.
“He is a fly-half who likes to drop deep – into the pocket – and bombard the heavens with those towering kicks.
“The forwards love it, the midfield not so much.
“The Ospreys and Wales midfield have too often played second fiddle to the predictable kicking game.
“Biggar can play on the gain line but he needs encouragement.
“Rob Howley has spent plenty of time pushing him flatter, and that is when he has enjoyed the benefit of the super-slick passing Rhys Webb alongside him.
“He’ll miss that symbiotic relationship.
“He is a player capable of playing flat, seeing the space, mixing and matching it, enigmas and variation – in sort, the type the Saints have been missing.
“Biggar won’t let his new club down, but he won’t lift them back to where they believe they belong.
“The signing is a big statement but I fear this marriage of likes may not amount to much else.”