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Wales call for Rhys Priestland unlikely with Dan Biggar set to face France

Dan Biggar won his 81st cap for Wales during this month’s Six Nations defeat in Ireland
Guinness Six Nations: Wales v France
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 22 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, text commentary on BBC Sport website and app.

Wales are unlikely to call up fly-half cover as they are increasingly confident Dan Biggar will be fit to face France in the Six Nations.

Biggar failed a head injury assessment during the loss in Ireland earlier this month, while Owen Williams is out for the campaign with a hamstring injury.

Gareth Anscombe and Rhys Patchell are existing long-term absentees at 10.

All that has prompted talk of a return for Rhys Priestland, ineligible because he plays outside Wales with Bath.

But Wales have not yet approached the 33-year-old, whose most recent appearance for his country was in 2017.

With 50 appearances to his name, Priestland falls below the current 60-cap rule which stops people playing club rugby outside of Wales being selected for Test rugby.

Under previous rules, there was a loophole which meant players with fewer than 60 caps were still eligible if they were not offered a contract by a Welsh region when signing for a club outside Wales.

That caveat would have applied to Priestland, who attracted interest from his homeland but did not receive a formal offer from any of the four Welsh regions when he signed a new contract with Bath last year.

But the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has since removed that condition, meaning Wales head coach Wayne Pivac would have to ask the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), made up of regional and WRU representatives, to give him permission to select Priestland.

Pivac has not sought that permission yet because he and his medical staff are so confident that Biggar will be fit for Saturday’s match against France in Cardiff.

Biggar was forced off the field early in the second half of the loss to Ireland on 8 February but he is back in training by now.

Wales are eager not to rush the 30-year-old back, mindful that his knock in Dublin was a third head injury in five months.

Assistant coach Neil Jenkins last week said Wales were hopeful Biggar would be fit to face France but the squad still lacks cover.

Cardiff Blues’ Jarrod Evans is the only other specialist 10 in the squad.

Williams was primarily in the squad because of his versatility – able to cover centre as well as fly-half – and it was telling that Wales did not call up a replacement when he withdrew last week.

They are likelier to add back three cover in the build-up to the France fixture, particularly as wing Owen Lane will also miss the entire Six Nations because of a hamstring injury.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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