Lydiate happy to stay on dark side
March 22, 2012
Lydiate: "I'd rather have a few more girls saying what a good player I am" © PA Photos
Dan Lydiate's time as Wales' unsung hero may be at an end, but the flanker insists being named Six Nations player of the championship will not alter his appetite for rugby's dark arts.
The 24-year-old was handed the award after turning in a series of outstanding displays to help Wales record a third Grand Slam in just eight seasons, his performances earning 25% of more than 30,000 public votes on the tournament website.
The Newport Gwent Dragons' blindside has earned himself a reputation as one of the toughest tacklers in the business, going about his work in an unobtrusive manner while many focused on the prowess of back-row partners Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau. But that has changed after his man-of-the-match display in Saturday's Championship-clinching win over France in Cardiff.
Time and again Lydiate was the man halting the blue tide, and his textbook tackle on opposite number - and world player of the year - Thierry Dusautoir paved the way for Alex Cuthbert's crucial first-half try.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has described Lydiate as the "glue" that holds his impressive side together. But the man himself, who just over four years ago suffered a broken neck playing a Heineken Cup match in Perpignan for his region, has been taken aback by the plaudits coming his way.
Lydiate said: "I am quite shocked but the award is a massive honour and I didn't expect it at all. I didn't think it could top winning the Slam but this is the icing on the cake.
"You look at the award and you see the names of people like Brian O'Driscoll and Shane Williams on there, they are legends of the game and seeing my own name being put on there doesn't seem right in my own mind, but I am so happy."
Lydiate, sporting stitches in a cut on his nose after catching a stray boot against the French, has no intention of altering his approach to the game.
"There is a mix of players in rugby which is what makes it such a good sport," he said. "You have the old heads watching it in the pub who see the dark arts while the younger people, like the girls who watch, see the backs scoring the tries.
"I'd rather have a few more girls saying what a good player I am but I want to say thanks to everyone who voted for me. I just do what I have to do to try and help the performance. Everyone has their job to do and I seem to find myself making tackles; you can't always be out there carrying the ball.
"The way I play number six is different to how Tom Croft and Stephen Ferris play. I am not saying it is the right way but it's the sort of player I am and it gives a good balance to the back row. Toby is a big carrier for us, Sam is a scavenger on the floor and I seem to do most of the tackling.
"I just like to get on with my job, I enjoy playing with Toby and Sam, we seem to complement each other well."
Given his selfless approach to the game it seems fitting that Lydiate's abiding memory of the championship has nothing to do with any of his personal triumphs. Instead, his fondest memory will be parading the Triple Crown following last month's dramatic 19-12 win over England at Twickenham.
"Walking around Twickenham with the Triple Crown was awesome, it was the first silverware I had ever won and you always remember the first time you win something," he said. "The Slam was massive, but the first trophy you win is always special."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel