Six Nations 2014: Wales' Lydiate relishing Ireland back-row battle

Highlights: Wales 23-15 Italy

Wales flanker Dan Lydiate is expecting a titanic Six Nations battle between the back-rows when they meet Ireland in Dublin next Saturday.

Ireland pair Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien vied for back-row places with Wales breakaways Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau and Lydiate on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour.

O'Brien is out through injury, but Lydiate is still expecting a battle.

"The coaches are spoilt for choice, Ireland are the same," Lydiate said.

"Ireland are missing O'Brien, but they have so much depth in the back-row."

Wales began the defence of their title with a in Cardiff, while Ireland eased to a 28-6 win over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Lydiate plays his club rugby in France for Racing Metro alongside Wales colleagues Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips, and Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton.

"After the Lions tour there are a lot of Irish boys you are friendly with," Lydiate added.

"I am playing at Racing Metro now with Johnny Sexton, so I am really looking forward to coming up against him.

"I am sure there will be a few texts in the week and some banter.

"The last few games against Ireland have been real battles, and I expect it to be the same this time.

"The match will probably hinge on a couple of incidents that could swing either way, and it could be a good spectacle."

Wales captain Warburton successfully made his comeback from injury off the bench against Italy, giving coach Warren Gatland some selection dilemmas against Ireland.

With Warburton effective at both open-side and blind-side, it would mean either Lydiate or Tipuric dropping out if Gatland fields his skipper in the starting XV.

While his starting place could come under threat, Lydiate welcomes the competition for places.

"Sam has been out a while. It's good to see him back on the field," Lydiate said.

"It would have done him the world of good to get the 15 or 20 minutes and we will see what happens next week.

"We have got two world-class sevens now and 'Tips' has been on fire all season.

"I have played with both of them and they have played together as well, which they did so well last season."

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