DAN Lydiate has described his pride, after his bone shaking tackling displays for Wales during their march to the 2012 Grand Slam earned him the RBS Six Nations player of the championship award.
The Abbey-cwm-hir raised Newport Gwent Dragons flanker signed off the 2012 tournament with a man-of-the-match display in Wales’ 19-6 victory over France.
The triumph sparked a weekend of celebrations across Wales, with the sporting public excited at the prospect of future glory with an emerging national side.
Victory also helped erase memories from defeat at the hands of Les Bleus at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
A third Grand Slam in eight seasons also matches the achievement of Wales’ 1970s golden era and guaranteed folklore status for Warren Gatland’s talented generation.
Lydiate was delighted to be voted player of the championship and said: “I am really surprised to be honest. I am genuinely chuffed to bits. It tops off an amazing competition for me and for Wales.
“To be part of such a talented Wales team and win the Grand Slam in Cardiff on Saturday was incredible in itself, but to then be voted player of the championship is absolutely unbelievable.
“It is a massive honour to win, especially given the quality of the other players up for the award. Thanks to everyone who voted for me, it means a lot.”
Coach Warren Gatland backed the public vote, describing his tough tackling blindside flanker as “an unsung hero.”
“There is not a lot flashy about him,” added Gatland.
“He does a lot of the donkey work to make the others look good and you need those type of people.
"They are the glue that holds everything together. Dan is a great athlete, a great professional, and he is important for us.”
Wales skipper Sam Warburton added: “I think if you asked anybody in the squad who they thought the three most important players were, I think Dan would come up in a lot of the answers.
“He is thought of very highly among the players. He is one of our form players, definitely an unsung hero and a key man in this campaign. His work in defence is second to none.”
“Dan in the French game was absolutely phenomenal. I think he has had games like that in the past but has never had the recognition for it. His tackle count and work in defence is always the best when you look at the stats after a game.
“I’ve never seen anybody in so much pain after a game. Afterwards his body is in a mess.
“He doesn't feel pain during a game, he has the heart of a lion.”
Proud father John Lydiate also described his delight after his son etched his name into Welsh rugby folklore last Saturday.
"I’m very proud and for Dan to be voted player of the tournament is just unbelievable,” said Lydiate senior.
“Dan just does what he does but it is very pleasing for him to get recognition like this. He works so hard and deserves this award.
“Hopefully this team can stay injury free because they are all so young and unlike the national team from the 1970s these lads are at the start of their careers and can look ahead to another decade if all goes to plan."
He hopes Dan’s emergence can help open the doors for future generations of Mid Wales players, but warned that parents will always have to put in the miles to South Wales.