Dan Lydiate says the Wales squad, currently on their pre-Rugby World Cup camp in Spala, Poland, have found extra inspiration from the other elite athletes using the Olympic training venue.
Polish Olympic gold medallist shot putter Tomasz Majewski is just one of a host of top names from the Olympic world who are utilising the facility alongside Wales’ international rugby stars, but at 6 foot 8 inches tall and weighing in at 140kgs Tomasz, in particular, has proved difficult to miss.
Lydiate and the rest of the 35-man squad are sharing mealtimes and training facilities with a variety of dedicated Olympians including hammer throwers, pole vaulters, a fencing team and wrestlers and they can’t help but be impressed.
“We are lucky in that we have each other to help maintain focus, to keep up the levels of competition within the squad to ensure we all stay motivated when it gets physically and mentally tough,” said Lydiate.
“But some of these Olympic athletes are in individual sports and the mental strength they have both to reach and to stay at the top level is impressive.
“We have been up early and working hard through some long days out here, but we are all relishing the competition with each other.
“Then we see Tomasz in his sand pit throwing his shot putt day after day and that kind of dedication is inspiring.
“We’ve also been watching the wrestlers and the fencing team going about their business and it creates a great training atmosphere.
“The facilities here really are top notch and to be surrounded by so many people who are at the very top level of their own discipline creates a really positive environment.”
Dragons flanker Lydiate is only in his second season in the top flight after making his international debut against Argentina in the Autumn of 2009.
He seems to have nailed down his starting place in the ultra-competitive Welsh back row in recent matches, but he is taking nothing for granted.
“The world cup is creeping up on us now and we have three test matches left to prove ourselves and to prove we are worthy of a place on that plane to New Zealand,” said Lydiate.
“The competition for places throughout the squad is intense and we know we are going to have to perform next month.
“If you want to secure your place you are going to have to take your chance when you get it.
“The World Cup really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone wants to make sure they are there.
“The competition for places means there is real jeopardy for everyone, as it’s (RWC) got to be your ultimate aim as a rugby player.
You have to keep your head down and work hard and hope you come out of it the other end intact and still in the mix.
“And then, if you get there, the intensity goes up a level again.”
Lydiate joined his team-mates this morning (Friday) in their Spala team room, watching live footage of RWC Pool D opponents Fiji’s clash with New Zealand in Dunedin, which saw the All Blacks finish 60 -14 victors.
“Fiji were beaten, but they scored two tries and showed how physical they can be,” said Lydiate.
“They showed that there is no big gap at this level of rugby anymore.
“More and more it all comes down to what happens on the day and that is what is going to decide our group at the World Cup.
“The Samoans proved that by beating Australia, it’s not a lesson we needed to learn as players, we learnt it a long time ago. But the expectations will be different which may actually help us at World Cup time.
“No longer do people expect these teams to be turned over with ease and everyone knows it’s going to be a tough physical battle every time you go out on the pitch against them.
“You always want to play to the best of your ability, but it doesn’t always go exactly to plan and none of these matches are going to be easy.
“We will need to be right at the top of our game from one to 15 and be able to handle ourselves.
“If you are not up for it you can get smashed by these sides, which is, in part, what happened to the Wallabies.
“Samoa will look to smash you and, while you avoid that as much as you can, you also have to deal with it.
“You have to be physically ready and you have to be at the very top of your skill level and that is what these training camps, and the warm-up matches next month, are all about.”
Tickets to the Wales vs England Rugby World Cup warm-up match at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 13 August (kick off 2.30pm) are priced £30 and tickets to the Wales vs Argentina on Saturday 20 August (kick of 2.30pm) are priced at £25 and are on a ‘buy one get one free’ promotion.
Fans can also purchase their tickets for the Millennium Stadium clashes offer online at www.wru.co.uk/ticketsor by calling the ticket hotlines 08442 777 888 or 02920 230130 or at local Tesco stores.


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