Close call as contenders line up for a shot at Number 10
IF you needed someone to take a goal-kick for your life, it is reasonable to assume you would seek out Dan Biggar's mobile number before Rhys Priestland's.
All the facts and figures are in the Ospreys man's favour when it comes to accuracy with the boot.
In this season's Pro12 league he has a 75 per cent success rate as a marksman, with 15 attempts out of 20 finding the target.
Priestland weighs in with 42 per cent accuracy, having slotted 11 from 26.
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And while Biggar has 1,061 points from 109 games for the Ospreys, his rival has a more modest 739 from 104 outings for the Scarlets.
As Jonathan Humphreys underlined last term, Biggar's Pro12 average would be even more impressive but for his willingness to take on kicks from any distance, at any angle. Not for him fretting about his prospects of winning the Rhino golden boot. He is a team player whose only concern is to do right by his side.
The complicating factor when trying to predict who will wear the national No. 10 jersey this autumn is Leigh Halfpenny, with the Blues player's emergence as a top-rank goalkicker effectively meaning Wales can give greater weight to other factors when deciding who should play at fly-half.
So we are back to who runs a game better, Biggar or Priestland? Who has the better mix to his game? Who is the more positive influence on the team?
Rob Howley's complaint about Biggar in the past has been that he hasn't been varying his game enough. According to the Wales coach a season or two ago, he didn't have the correct balance between kicking and running.
This season Biggar has been challenging defences more, with three clean breaks in five games and eight defenders beaten. But it hasn't been at the expense of any tactical control. If anything, he has been running games better by using more weapons in his armoury.
He has been looking to bring those around him into play with his passing and has noticeably throttled back on his kicking, but when he has used the boot it has invariably been to punishing effect.
The ex-Swansea player has actually been running more than Priestland, but the Scarlet deserves credit for the way his team's back division has been functioning. It may be packed with quality players, but it still needs unleashing and in several encounters this season, not least against Connacht when he sent out 30 passes, Priestland has called the tune to telling effect.
On balance it would be hard to argue against the view that Biggar's form has been better than his rival's — he has been exceptional in his last two outings — but Europe is coming and he clearly needs to sustain it if he is to get first use of the shirt in a showpiece game, against either New Zealand or Australia, this autumn.
Former Wales star Tony Clement, who played fly-half against the All Blacks in 1989, believes the Osprey is better placed than ever to challenge for the coveted national No. 10 shirt.
"Dan is 100 per cent in the reckoning," said ex-Swansea skipper Clement, capped 37 times for Wales and a Lion in 1989 and 1993.
"I have always been a fan of his. He is young player with an old head and a great skill-set.
"Not everyone has taken to him in the past, but I think he is winning over the doubters this season. I saw him against the Scarlets and he was fantastic.
"The way he is playing I'd be surprised if he wasn't in the Wales squad for the autumn. But it is one thing being in a group of 30-odd players, quite another to play in the big games.
"The acid test is who plays in the matches against New Zealand and Australia. If Dan features on one or both of those, it will be a significant breakthrough for him."
Clement doesn't accept the argument that Priestland's game might be brought down by his kicking travails. "A lot of it is public perception," he said.
"He could be outstanding in his general play but if he puts wide four kicks people will tend to remember only the misses."
There is also one other No. 10 who could come into contention. "James Hook can play a bit as well," said Clement.
"There isn't that much talent in Wales that we can forget about him."