Dan Lydiate secures Wales release
FORMER Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate has reassured Wales fans he will be available for his country after moving to play in France.
The 2012 Grand Slam-winning Six Nations player of the year has joined wealthy and ambitious Parisian club Racing Métro along with fellow Wales star, centre Jamie Roberts.
Wales coach Warren Gatland, who led the British and Irish Lions to a 2-1 series victory over Australia this summer, has told his Welsh players to have a clause in their contract to stop them being denied release for international matches.
“I had to make sure I was still available for Wales and I did do that,” Lydiate, who played 85 matches for the Dragons after making his debut in 2007, said.
High profile Wales players based in France and England also include Mike Phillips (Bayonne), George North (Northampton), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Paul James (Bath), James Hook (Perpignan), Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Craig Mitchell (Exeter), Rhys Gill (Saracens) and Aled Brew (Biarritz).
Some have become entangled in player-release rows over the years and have consequently missed Wales Test matches and training camps.
Ex-Dragons lock Charteris was the first to publicly state he had secured a full release for Wales games and training squads when he joined French club Perpignan in 2012.
The 25-year-old Lydiate sought advice from Gatland, who selected him to play in all three Tests during the Lions’ series win over the Wallabies, before crossing the English Channel.
“I spoke to Warren before coming out here – I had to make sure I was still available for Wales and I did do that,” he said.
“Hopefully, it will work well, but I am looking forward to playing with a new set of players and with new coaches.
“They (the WRU) will work closely with the club, but obviously you are at a slight disadvantage because the coaches are not able to watch you every week.
“I just hope if I am playing well enough that they will still pick me. “There is a massive onus on myself to make sure I am playing well out here, and if Racing are successful there is a big chance I will still be selected for Wales.”
Lydiate, Roberts and Lions teammate Jonathan Sexton, the Ireland outside-half, have all been recruited by Racing Métro who are striving to become a major force domestically and in the Heineken Cup.