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Wales expect France to target Dan Biggar

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Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins accepts it will be difficult to protect Dan Biggar when France put the outside-half "in the firing line" next week.

France targeted Johnny Sexton during their 10-9 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland last weekend, with the fly-half the subject of several questionable hits in Paris. Sexton appeared dazed on leaving the Stade de France field and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said later the number 10 had suffered a "whiplash injury" to his neck and shoulder.

Wales expect France to target Biggar the same way when the two sides meet in Cardiff on Friday next week, but Jenkins says the Ospreys back must handle it and take the tactics as a compliment.

"It's part and parcel of the game," said Jenkins, the former Wales and British and Irish Lions outside-half. "Players as good as Johnny and Dan have to realise they are in the firing line. It's hard to protect these players in the game today.

"You've just got to get on with it, front up and what will be will be. Dan is a tough old nut and let's hope he keeps playing well. But, in terms of sides targeting him, that's a positive on our part because it shows how well he's actually playing."

Biggar was arguably Wales' best player at the 2015 World Cup last autumn when Warren Gatland's injury-hit side reached the quarter-final. But the fly-half has been targeted in the opening two Six Nations games with Ireland and Scotland kicking to him and raising the prospect of injury.

Biggar was forced off in the early stages of the Dublin draw against Ireland with a foot injury and made a remarkable recovery to start the 27-23 victory over Scotland last Saturday.

"Can you hide him?" Jenkins replied when it was put to him that Wales should afford Biggar greater protection. "Teams have split set-ups and Ireland and Scotland kicked to Dan whether he was on the left, on the right or down the middle. Unless we put him behind the posts and give him a seat in the crowd we can't hide him!

"If they want to target Dan they can. He's big enough and strong enough to deal with that, he'll just have to get on with the game and take that as a compliment."

Wales have released 13 players back to their regions ahead of this weekend's Guinness PRO12 games. Winger Tom James is the only one of that number who played against Scotland.

"Some of them haven't played in the two Test matches and there's nothing quite like playing," Jenkins said. "So hopefully they'll go back to their regions and get some game time under their belt. We know France are going to be major threat to us.

"They've got a decent balance across the side and they're looking to play a wider and more expansive game (under new coach Guy Noves) while still having a strong set-piece. But we generally improve as the tournament progresses and the longer we're together we get better.

"We have extra time to prepare for France after the six-day turnaround for the Scotland game, and that will allow us to work on different things."