England v Wales, Six Nations, February 25
Lydiate relishing back-row battle
February 24, 2012
Wales' Dan Lydiate claim the Man of the Match honour in his side's Six Nations victory over Scotland earlier this month © PA Photos
Wales' formidable Rugby World Cup back-row triumvirate will reunite at Twickenham on Saturday with England's new-look trio firmly in their sights.
Free from injury and fighting fit, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau will form a key part of an unbeaten Wales side looking to make it three out of three in this year's Six Nations and wrap up their 20th Triple Crown in the process.
Blindside flanker Lydiate is relishing the opportunity to take on a highly-regarded England breakaway unit that contains Wales-based No.8 Ben Morgan in what will be his first Test match start alongside captain Chris Robshaw and fellow flanker Tom Croft.
"It will be a really good battle with the England back-row," said Lydiate, who was named man-of-the-match when Wales defeated Scotland earlier this month. "Tom Croft is very quick if you give him any space at all, as he showed with the British Lions in South Africa a few years ago, while he is also a superb lineout option.
"Chris Robshaw has been playing well as captain, and he is almost a six playing seven. He's big, abrasive, tackles hard and carries. Then they have Ben Morgan, so I am sure it will be a tough old battle and I am sure they will be frothing at the mouth as much as we are. We hope to chop them down and give Sam a bit of time on the ball to do what he is good at and hopefully turn their attack into ours."
The contest between Morgan and dynamic Faletau promises to be one of tomorrow's highlights when the visitors target only their second Twickenham triumph since 1988. Faletau, who is almost two years younger than Morgan, started all seven of Wales' World Cup games and has already been tipped as a potential British & Lions Test No.8 in Australia next year.
"People talk about stopping Ben Morgan, but I am sure England are having the same discussions about Toby Faletau," Lydiate added. "I have never played against Ben Morgan, but I am well aware of his capabilities.
"He is a massive ball-carrier and he can shift for a big guy. He is a potent threat off the base of the scrum, so our job is to nullify his go-forward. Every back-row you come up against these days usually has one massive ball-carrier. Just going off past experience against South Africa in the World Cup and Ireland, they had three.
"We know that the threats are coming, and it is up to us to stop them. It's a massive test, and I am really looking forward to it. It's going to be a really physical game - they will go out all guns blazing at home."
Wales arrived at their Richmond base yesterday afternoon, with Warburton's return from a thigh injury among three changes up-front following the 27-13 Scotland success. Lock Alun-Wyn Jones makes his first Wales appearance since the World Cup - he suffered a toe injury in November and underwent surgery - while hooker Ken Owens is handed a full Test debut.
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