Dan Lydiate is delighted to have made his return from six months on the sidelines and has not yet given up on his Lions dream.
The 25-year-old played the first 40 minutes in the Newport Gwent Dragons 52-19 defeat at the Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro 12 on Friday night, his first action since breaking and dislocating his ankle on regional duty in September.
The injury has robbed the tough-tackling back-rower of a crucial period of the season, with head coach Warren Gatland due to name his Lions party to tour Australia at the end of April.
Lydiate has only four further games in which to stake a claim for a place on the plane, in arguably the most fiendishly competitive areas of selection with the likes of Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Chris Robshaw, Sean O'Brien, Tom Croft and Tom Wood among the available options.
But, for now, Lydiate is glad just to be back on a rugby field.
He said: "It was nice to be back out there, I was blowing a bit and I was glad to come off at half-time but it has been nearly six months since I last played and I really enjoyed it.
"I am happy with how it went and hopefully I can build on that. I am not fully match fit, but I felt strong in contact and it is just a matter of timing. I slipped off a few tackles but it was a massive confidence booster to come off the field in one piece."
Gatland is a known admirer of Lydiate, who will leave the Dragons for a move to a French club in the summer, due to his dealings with the player as part of the Wales squad, but the star of the 2012 Grand Slam triumph knows he cannot rely solely on past achievements to win Lions selection.
"It's down to what I do on the pitch, actions speak louder than words," he said.
"If I am to have any chance of going I need to find my form pretty quick, but I am just happy with how today went and I will work hard over the coming weeks.
"It's a dream for any player to go on a Lions tour, but I am not focusing on that at the minute.
"If you do that something will happen, you may get injured or lose form. I just need to get back fit and try and have a good run before the end of the season."
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