Dan Biggar has been tipped to challenge Rhys Priestland for the Wales fly-half jersey
Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar has been backed to launch a major challenge for the Wales number 10 jersey this season.
Biggar missed out for selection for the tour of Australia despite enjoying an impressive end to the season as he helped his region to the RaboDirect PRO12 title.
He was bitterly disappointed not to jet Down Under but Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees says he has responded in perfect fashion - with hard graft.
"Dan is going to challenge for that shirt with Wales this year," Rees told the South Wales Evening Post.
"He has all the attributes. If we can demonstrate consistency as a team, he has a fighting chance of getting into the national team."
"Since I came back from my coaching in Italy last term, he has been unbelievably consistent with the work he puts in, day in, day out.
"He has maintained that regime this summer and put his disappointment with Wales behind him.
"He has his own training routines and is the complete professional. I have known him since he was 15 and I have seen that determination and diligence from a young age. He gets setbacks, he gets kicked quite a bit, but for us he is a true talisman.
"People don't appreciate what he brings. If we are looking at our set-piece, for instance, and our phase-play integration, he's assessing the footage and coming up with ideas.
"He has his own thoughts about the need to become more effective off scrum and line-outs. He's at the hub of that and is a big influence on those around him. He is also prepared to challenge us as coaches, which is great."
Biggar became the first Ospreys player to reach the 1,000 point mark and also broke the region's record for points over a season.
He was rewarded by Wales with a start at fly-half against the Barbarians in June. But he was cut from the squad for the three-Test series with the Wallabies.
"We knew what Wales's thought processes were," added Rees.
"They wanted continuity from the Six Nations and were keen to go with players who had done well for them during that period.
"I was just glad to see Dan back in the mix and being discussed heavily by the Wales coaching group. That's credit to him for the work he put in.
"The great thing is he's driving on Matthew Morgan and Sam Davies as well. It's an area where we are blessed. Those guys in particular get to see what he's about and it does rub off."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.