Lydiate targets England clash
July 24, 2011
Dan Lydiate is upended by England's Tom Palmer during teh Six Nations clash in February © Getty Images
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate believes England are one of the most physical sides in world rugby and therefore ideal opposition for Warren Gatland's team as they intensify their preparations for the Rugby World Cup in September.
Lydiate is among the 35-man squad currently undergoing a rigorous, and at times torturous, training regime in Poland - which includes harsh cryotherapy sessions at the Spala training camp - as they prepare for back-to-back Tests against Martin Johnson's England.
Wales travel to Twickenham on August 6 before hosting their old rivals at the Millennium stadium a week later and then taking on an aggressive Argentina outfit the following week in Cardiff.
The intense training and testing internationals should put Wales in good shape for what promises to be a physical World Cup campaign which sees them facing South Africa, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia in the group stages in New Zealand.
"England, in particular, are a tough prospect," said the 23-year-old who was born in Salford. "I was surprised just how physical they were when we faced them in our first match of the Six Nations this year.
"I'd face the Southern Hemisphere sides in the autumn. In missed the Springboks game, which looked pretty physical , but the Wallabies and the All Blacks were more fast paced and furious. England were that, but more physical again. Perhaps because of the intensity of the Six Nations, but it was certainly an eye opener for me.
"It was the most physical game I have played in and, in that respect, facing them again this August, and Argentina as well, is going to be ideal Rugby World Cup preparation."
Gatland will name his final 30-man squad for the Rugby World Cup following the three internationals on August 22. While Lydiate looks certain to travel to New Zealand having started all but one of Wales' ten matches so far this season, the competition within the squad is intense and Gatland has refused to rule out calling up players from outside the squad.
Lock Luke Charteris made his return to Welsh colours against the Barbarians in June, after more than a year away from the international game, and earned a call up to the training squad. Now the 28-year-old is determined to force his way on to the plane to New Zealand.
"It's not going to be easy as there is competition everywhere you look in the squad, but that will drive us forward and be good for Wales, I only hope I can continue to play my part.," he said. "Bradley (Davies) and Alun (Wyn Jones) have been going well, but all I can do is work on my own form and fitness and not give up hope.
"We've worked hard off the pitch and we have all pushed each other and reached a good physical standard. I'm fitter than I've ever been, I'm at my ideal weight at 126/127kg, that's as heavy as I can get whilst maintaining my mobility around the pitch. I now need to transfer that physical improvement into my game and put my hand up.
"You want to make the squad, but everyone wants a starting spot and I'm not going to give up on that either, personally, I'm feeling good at the moment and happy with the way I'm playing."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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