WALES defence coach Shaun Edwards says former Newport Gwent Dragons hero Dan Lydiate is getting back to his best.
The 26-year-old flanker was voted player of the tournament for the 2012 Six Nations but missed last year’s campaign as Wales successfully defended their title.
Lydiate’s final season at Rodney Parade was ruined by six months on the sidelines with a fractured ankle and hamstring problems before his move to Racing Metro last summer.
He was fit enough to help the British & Irish Lions seal an historic 2-1 series win in Australia but then suffered another ankle problem in Wales’ defeat to South Africa in November.
But Edwards was impressed with Lydiate’s performance in last weekend’s victory over Italy and is expecting big things from the chop tackle specialist as Wales head to Dublin to face the Irish on Saturday.
“I thought his tackling was really good,” said Edwards. “I spoke to him about trying to anticipate where the opposition are going to go.
“And he did what he does best, as good as anyone probably in the world, in stopping them going forward.
“I think he’s definitely getting back to his best but you’ve got to remember that Dan Lydiate had an horrific injury.
“He came back with the Lions and Warren put a lot of faith in him and he repaid that faith in the third Test.
“But when you’ve had a long-term injury it takes time to get back to your best and I think he really showed strong signs of doing that on the weekend.”
Edwards knows that Ireland will provide a strong test for Lydiate and his teammates at the Aviva Stadium after they easily beat Scotland on Sunday.
“They’re playing on their own ground and they’re very strong at home,” he said.
“We’re under no illusions, particularly defensively, about what we are about to face and we’re hugely motivated for it.
“We’ve got a huge job on our hands defensively against one of the top attack coaches in the world in Joe Schmidt.
“They scored three tries against New Zealand and against Scotland at the weekend and they’ve got threats all over the field.”