Ly­di­ate’s aim­ing for fresh Test glo­ries

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - By PETER JACK­SON

DAN Ly­di­ate has vowed to join the massed ranks of Welsh back row con­tenders in Test rugby.

Af­ter 18 months scarred by in­jury, the Ospreys blind­side ad­mits he faces ‘mas­sive chal­lenges’. But he is mo­ti­vated by a hunger to prove him­self again.

“Come Septem­ber, I’ll be ready to rock and roll,’’ Ly­di­ate said. “I don’t ever re­mem­ber go­ing into pre­sea­son fit, as in fully fit. I’m good to go.’’

Ly­di­ate has not been seen in the Test arena since the fi­nal five min­utes against the Spring­boks last year, a bi­cep in­jury elim­i­nat­ing him from the Six Na­tions.

A new clus­ter of back row for­wards – no­tably James Davies, El­lis Jenk­ins and Seb Davies – have emerged as chal­lengers in an area once ruled by the all-Li­ons’ Test trio of Ly­di­ate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Fale­tau.

“Hav­ing such strength in depth is bril­liant for Welsh rugby,’’ says Ly­di­ate. “So many good young play­ers coming through bodes well for the fu­ture and that level of com­pe­ti­tion pushes you on.

“In one sense it feels al­most like start­ing again from scratch.

“The new faces coming through are hun­gry for the jer­sey and that keeps driv­ing us to play at the high­est level. There are mas­sive chal­lenges ahead. I’m go­ing to try to get my place back and I’ll give it my very best shot.”

Wales will go into their next match, Scot­land in Cardiff on Nov 3, with­out their cur­rent first-choice blind­side, Aaron Shin­gler. He will not play again this year af­ter tear­ing knee lig­a­ments dur­ing the Scar­lets’ PRO14 fi­nal against Le­in­ster last month.

Warburton, out of ac­tion since per­suad­ing French ref­eree Ro­main Poite to change his mind and se­cure the Li­ons a drawn se­ries in New Zealand last sum­mer, hopes to be back in con­tention by Novem­ber. Whether he does so at open­side or blind­side re­mains to be seen.

Ly­di­ate, ten months older than Warburton at 30, read­ily con­cedes that the phys­i­cal­ity of the game in gen­eral and the back row in par­tic­u­lar in­creases sea­son on sea­son.

“Ab­so­lutely, one hun­dred per cent,’’ he says. “The game has moved on over the last two sea­sons and it keeps mov­ing on”

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