Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has said Wales “have really needed” his former back-row partner Dan Lydiate. The Ospreys flanker was selected last month by Wayne Pivac for Wales’ 2021 Six Nations campaign, and could win his first cap since November 2018 in the coming weeks.
Lydiate and Warburton were part of one of the world’s best and most well-rounded back-rows of the last decade alongside Taulupe Faletau at No8.
All three featured in the British and Irish Lions’ series win over Australia in 2013, with Lydiate and Warburton starting on either flank in the second Test.
The 33-year-old held Wales’ No6 shirt during their 2011 World Cup campaign and their Grand Slam triumph a few months later. He was hugely admired by former head coach Warren Gatland, and his insuperable defence, chiefly his chop tackle, was the bedrock of much of Wales’ success.
Warburton addressed his former teammate’s selection on Instagram recently, describing it as a “great call” and that “not many have had the destructive ability in defence”.
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Despite forming such a successful ensemble for Wales, the last time they played alongside one another in red was against Japan in November 2016, even though it was not until 2018 that Warburton retired.
The two have been dogged by injuries throughout their careers, with Lydiate spending a great deal of time out of action with ankle, shoulder and knee problems.
While Warburton hung up his boots as a result of the damage his body received throughout his career, the 67-cap Lydiate continued, though few would have thought he would work his way back into the national set-up.
But a clean bill of health and an upturn in form for the Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14 this season has led to his recall.
Wales begin their Six Nations campaign against Ireland at the Principality Stadium this Sunday.
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