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Lions look past 'huge loss' of Jones as they set off for South Africa
Out-half Dan Biggar enjoyed playing with the Irish centre pairing of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw.

LIONS OUT-HALF Dan Biggar said he and the squad must focus on the quality they still have in their ranks after losing captain Alun Wyn Jones before even flying out to South Africa.

The Wales lock suffered a dislocated shoulder in yesterday’s win over Japan and has been replaced as tour captain by Conor Murray, with Adam Beard called into the squad.

The Lions flew out of Edinburgh Airport this evening bound for Johannesburg in South Africa – which is now in Level 4 lockdown amidst an alarming Covid-19 surge – and while Biggar admitted that it hurt to be without Jones, they must simply must move on.

“Obviously, it’s pretty disappointing to lose your captain and talisman after five or six minutes,” said Biggar.

“He was pretty down in the changing room as you’d expect, but I suppose it’s one of those things. We’re lucky that in the group, we have a lot of good leaders, good speakers in the group.

“But, you’ve only got to look at Al’s record and his experience, he’s been the sort of go-to guy in the group.

“He’s going to be a huge loss, but it’s one of those things. Things move so quickly on these tours, the rest of us have to kind of put it to one side and look at the group we’ve got.”

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric was also injured in the first half against Japan, meaning he has been replaced on tour by Josh Navidi.

dan-biggar-with-ryoto-nakamura Dan Sheridan / INPHO Biggar impressed for the Lions. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Warren Gatland’s side scored four tries in a 28-10 win over Japan and while Biggar was pleased with some aspects of the Lions’ display, he sees major scope for improvement.

“We started the game really strongly, we played some solid rugby in that first 30, 40 minutes,” said Biggar.

“Fair play, we played territory well, got over the gainline quite well. We moved the ball when there was space to and that was pleasing. Lots of things we worked on in the build-up in the week leading up came into play in the first 30 minutes.

“Fair play to Japan, they came out with a game plan for the second half where they weren’t going to kick the ball, they were going to force us into errors and force us to be ill-disciplined.

“That’s what happened, we were very ill-disciplined in that second half. Combine that with them not kicking the ball back to you, you spend a lot of time defending.

“They adjusted their tactics very well, we should have dealt with it a little better. Tonnes to work on, a really good first hit-out for us and we’re pleased with the result first and foremost.”

Biggar impressed at out-half for the Lions, kicking accurately from the tee and out of hand, defending vigorously, and throwing some lovely passes.

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With Conor Murray at scrum-half and the Irish centre pairing of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw outside him, Biggar got a taste of what it’s like to be Johnny Sexton.

robbie-henshaw-and-bundee-aki-with-kotaro-matsushima Dan Sheridan / INPHO Henshaw and Aki were strong for the Lions. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Bundee and Robbie were excellent outside and Conor just brings that element of control,” said Biggar.

“His box-kicking was excellent, even more so in that first 30 or 40 minutes bringing that real control to our game. He moved us up the pitch quite well.

“Robbie was unbelievable today, he was everywhere – big hits, covering tackles, getting us going forward. His chat was excellent, he’s very good in the air.

“You can see why Johnny’s played so well for so many years, with that quality of players around him.

“It was a really good hit-out for us, we’d a really good platform laid for us by the forwards – it was a bit of an armchair for us in that first half an hour which was pleasing.”

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