The 18-year-old was picked to partner Cheik Tiote in midfield in the absence of Yohan Cabaye ahead of the experienced Vurnon Anita, who is still adjusting to the pace and intensity of English football.
Bigirimana says he is learning how to toughen up watching "The Master" ... Tiote.
Alan Pardew: "I thought this game might suit him more than Anita.
"I knew the intensity of the game - it was going to be like a Championship game. It would have that kind of energy.
"I didn't want Vurnon to get caught out by that. I knew Bigi, being at Coventry last year, would know what it was all about.
"I thought he played well. He can be very proud of his performance."