Gareth Thomas believes Dan Biggar stepping out of his ‘comfort zone’ in a high-profile move to Toulon can catapult his career to even greater heights.
Biggar, 33, currently plays for Premiership club Northampton Saints but is expected to sign for the Top 14 French side in the coming days.
The fly-half, who has racked up 93 Welsh caps between 2008 and 2021, previously played for Ospreys and Wales legend Thomas says a move across the Channel will provide the ideal opportunity for him to grow both professionally and personally in a new environment.
Thomas, 48, said: “I applaud anyone who uses their talent to gain great experience in life and have great experiences, be able to look back at their career and know they didn’t just sit in their comfort zone.
“If Dan Biggar decided to go back and play for the Ospreys, he’d play every week. Going to Toulon doesn’t guarantee him a starting place.
“All of a sudden he becomes someone who has to train hard every day, who has to work hard on his language and communication skills, on so many other factors.
“I think for him it’s a very brave lifestyle decision that would only enhance him as a person which will then enhance him as a player.”
Thomas knows just how challenging it can be to play in France, having spent three years of his storied career playing for Toulouse.
And he believes that Biggar, who will miss Wales’ Autumn matches due to a knee injury, will find it an even greater challenge, balancing a crucial position in the team as well as his family life off the pitch.
The former fly-half, speaking on the final leg of his Tackle HIV Myth Bus Tour campaign in London, added: “I learnt as a player who went to play in France when I played in Toulouse, it’s really difficult to go to a different country and play.
“People might think it’s an easy option because of the finance, but it’s really difficult, especially with Dan.
“This isn’t just about Dan Biggar, he has a family, we have to look at the decision that’s not just right for him and his rugby, but it’s also right for him and his family and that’s why I feel it’s a collectively brave decision and I applaud him for doing it.
“He plays a No.10, which is a position that has to communicate a lot. It’s a position which has to be able to contribute where it comes to team meetings, where it comes to tactics.
“Even though within Toulon there’s a lot of foreign influence, they’d still expect you to speak the language, they’d expect you to contribute in that way. When I went there was less expectation because I was playing full-back, I wasn’t in that integral position.
“For him, there would be a lot more expectancy for him to learn quickly which again I think makes it more of a brave decision for him and for his family.”
Tackle HIV, a campaign led by Gareth Thomas in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and the Terrence Higgins Trust, aims to tackle the stigma and misunderstanding around HIV. Visit www.tacklehiv.org and follow @tacklehiv