Lions hopeful Dan Lydiate plays it cautious

DAN Lydiate has already enjoyed one spectacular triumph over adversity in his rugby career – and today’s Millennium Stadium ‘Judgement Day’ could herald another.

Lydiate is just 40 minutes into his comeback after suffering a broken ankle six months ago. But he might also be only three games away from being selected for this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

Such is the 25-year-old Wales blindside flanker’s standing – he is among the most destructive back-row players in world rugby – that Lions coach Warren Gatland looks likely to take him down under, fitness permitting.

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Lydiate will line up for Newport Gwent Dragons against the Scarlets in Cardiff today, before facing further RaboDirect PRO12 appointments with Ulster and Munster before Gatland’s scheduled 30 April squad announcement.

Given that Lydiate made his Wales debut barely two years after breaking his neck in Perpignan and travelling home from France by air ambulance, it would be a fool’s game to bet against him becoming a 2013 Lion.

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“Because I was injured early on in my career and then picked up an ankle problem in the (2011) World Cup, I have learned you can never look too far ahead,” he said.

“I realise I am not going to play forever, and I know I have to make the most of my opportunities.

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“I feel fresh because I have not been beaten up every week like I had for the previous 18 months. Everyone gets tired, mentally and physically, but I feel refreshed and I am looking forward to finishing the season strongly.

“I now need to start getting my match fitness back, and over the next few weeks I am hoping just to get a bit of form.”