Saints fly-half Dan believes Northampton’s desire for improvement is ‘infectious’ at the moment, writes Tom Vickers.
Dan Biggar’s broad smile says it all.
The Wales star is loving life as a Saint and can’t contain his enthusiasm when speaking about the Club and those who are part of it.
Biggar moved away from all he had ever known when leaving Ospreys during the summer of 2018.
But it was a leap of faith that has had a huge impact on Biggar’s game and his mood.
“I find I’m learning things each day and becoming a better player each day,” said Biggar.
“I genuinely think I’ve become a better player from being up here and being involved in the setup.
“It’s down to the coaches but it’s also down to the lads we’ve got here as well, because they are the ones driving the standards and the enthusiasm.
“It’s definitely the happiest I’ve ever been on a rugby field, which makes life a lot easier.
“We’ve had a really good start and I don’t want us to get carried away and think we’re the best team in the world because we’re not, but if we can carry on doing what we’ve done in the past five or six weeks it gives us a really good chance to be in the mix come knockout time.”
Biggar has only played twice for Saints so far this season – but he was brilliant on both occasions.
Having helped Wales to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, he returned to his Club and immediately got stuck into two huge Champions Cup clashes.
He put the boot in against Lyon, kicking 20 points in a vital 25-14 victory for the men in Black, Green and Gold.
And Biggar then helped to orchestrate another win the following weekend, landing a nerveless last-gasp penalty that delivered a dramatic 35-32 triumph against Benetton in Treviso.
“It was brilliant,” recalls Biggar when asked about the moment his kick sealed the win for Saints.
“We played pretty poorly in the first half, but then we found our rhythm in the second 40 and found a way to win.
“If we went back to last year, we probably wouldn’t have found a way to come back from that.
“Even though we called last year a transition year – which it probably was with new coaches, lots of debuts and young players – to still finish in that top four gave the lads a lot of confidence.
“It showed us that over a 22-game season we were good enough to finish amongst the elite.
“It was really pleasing to get that job done in Italy because it kept us rolling. If you have a few good results and then come across a tough game on a poor pitch in Treviso and you come a cropper, it can stop your momentum.
“But we kept it going and we went into last weekend with a positive step and we got a pleasing result.
“But we’re fully aware that this weekend we’re going to have to be another 25 per cent better to get a result against Leinster, a European powerhouse, today.”
Biggar was unable to feature in the fantastic 36-13 win against Leicester last Saturday as a foot injury forced him to withdraw on the morning of the game.
James Grayson stepped in and pulled the strings for Saints from fly-half.
Biggar explained: “I just had a bit of a foot flare-up really in terms of the right one where I kick the ball.
“I could have probably got through if I was a second row able to just run around the pitch, but kicking was a bit too sore.
“I was really disappointed because when you feel you’re in good touch as an individual and in really good touch as a team, as we are, you want to be involved in that big game.
“But James did exceptionally well.
“As Chris [Boyd] mentioned, we lost about 270 international caps before the game (Courtney Lawes and Owen Franks also had to withdraw), but it didn’t matter because boys who have got 70, 80 caps for Leicester didn’t perform to the standard they would like to.
“Even though it’s important for big games to have experience, what we’ve got at the moment is young guys who are extremely talented, but who also have a hunger and drive like nothing I’ve ever seen.
“We’re making sure we keep our feet on the ground because we’re only five games into the Premiership season and two games into the Champions Cup.
“It’s been a really positive start and there’s so much that’s good about us, but it is just a start.
“We’ve got to keep this momentum and to keep the praise coming, we can’t rest on our laurels and we’ve got to turn it into a very, very good start.
“We need to make sure we’re sitting here in May, June and sitting top like we are in December.”
If Saints do achieve that, plenty of credit will go to the coaches, including director of rugby Chris Boyd and attack coach Sam Vesty.
“Chris gets all the plaudits and so he should because he’s the best guy I’ve worked for and wanted to work for – and I’ve had a lot of good coaches over the years,” Biggar said.
“I think all the guys feel the same because they don’t want to let him down.
“Sam Vesty deserves huge amounts of credit also because he’s ultra-positive and competitive.
“He wants us to be better and he wants us to come out with something at every training session and meeting.
“He wants us to have learned something and it’s infectious when you’re around guys like that and young guys who want to learn so much.”