Dan Lydiate lays down the law
DAN Lydiate doesn’t just terrify rugby players with his chop tackling – the flanker left his Newport Gwent Dragons team-mates quaking in their boots by giving them the hairdryer treatment at Rodney Parade last Friday.
The 25-year-old was a waterboy for the RaboDirect Pro12 clash against Leinster but morphed into Sir Alex Ferguson at half-time, dishing out a tongue-lashing that helped inspire the Dragons into a much-improved performance.
Lydiate, one of the most fearsome defensive players in world rugby, watched in shock as his team-mates shipped 19 points and three tries in the first quarter.
That woeful start led to the Wales star, who has been unable to defend his Six Nations player of the tournament title because of an ankle injury, offering some pearls of wisdom to captain Lewis Evans at half-time.
The skipper decided to cut out the middle man and told his fellow back-row forward to take to the floor in the changing-room at half-time and offer some home truths.
Those uncompromising words rallied the troops and the Dragons produced an abrasive, steely second-half display that earned an unlikely losing bonus point in a 26-19 defeat.
“He was waterboy and no disrespect to any of the others that run on with messages, but when Dan Lydiate does it, the boys respond,” said Evans.
“At half-time he gave me some advice in the changing- room and I said, ‘I tell you what, you shout it out’.
“I could see every vein bulging in his neck and the boys got the full Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment.
“Rather than me doing all the talking Dan stepped up and I think it was a good combination “I tried to say some specific technical things and he was screaming, ranting and raving!
“But it certainly got the response we wanted. It fired the boys up and they battled for all of the second half, if we had another five minutes who knows what could have happened.”
The Dragons have a two-week break and Lydiate will hope to hang up his waterboy bib for their next Pro12 clash against the Ospreys in Swansea on March 22.
Evans has started six of the last seven games at blindside flanker but admits he faces an almighty battle to keep the Wales star, who is looking to secure a spot on the Lions tour, from snatching his jersey.
“Dan’s individual contribution to the game is fantastic so we all look forward to having him back at the end of this season,” said the Dragons captain, who can play blindside, openside or number eight.
“With Toby Faletau back as well it will be a really good battle in the back row, but it has been all season to be fair.
“Both Nic Cudd and Ieuan Jones were fantastic against Leinster, Darren Waters is coming back soon and Jevon Groves can move back (from lock).
“Everyone will be scrapping for spots.”