Byrne sets Six Nations marker

Lions full back Lee Byrne wants to lay down a Six Nations marker to Wales coach Warren Gatland with explosive displays in the final two Pool games of the Heineken Cup. [more]

Byrne sets Six Nations marker

Lions full back Lee Byrne wants to lay down a Six Nations marker to Wales coach Warren Gatland with explosive displays in the final two Pool games of the Heineken Cup.

The 2009 tourist completed his first 80 minutes since September in the Ospreys’ New Year’s Day victory over Cardiff Blues.

The 29-year-old had previously endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines following a foot injury.

But now Byrne, whose first Lions tour also ended in injury during the lead up to the second Test against South Africa last summer, is hoping to put his nightmare behind him in time for his country’s Six Nations opener against England on February 6.

"It’s good to be back and perfect timing with the Six Nations coming up. I want to put a marker down by putting together a run of games and get my match fitness back," said Byrne, who was the world’s in-form full back in the lead up to the 10-match tour of the Republic. 

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"I want to find some form and get back to the level I was at before the Lions tour. I’ll be trying to do that with a bang in the next couple of weeks. My first goal in 2010 is to stay injury-free but I want to be back playing for Wales in the Six Nations.

"We’ve big matches in the Six Nations and they’re the games you want to be playing in. We can’t look ahead to the England game just yet as the Ospreys have massive games with Clermont and Leicester first. After that, then we’ll focus on Twickenham."

And he admits he is on a mission to impress Welsh boss Gatland in the Ospreys’ crucial European clashes with Clermont Auvergne and Leicester Tigers later this month.

With the Six Nations meeting at Twickenham less than five weeks away, those two games against two of Europe’s biggest names will provide the perfect stage to boost his hopes of an international recall.

“We can’t look ahead to the England game just yet as the Ospreys have massive games with Clermont and Leicester first. After that, then we’ll focus on Twickenham,” added Byrne.

"I came through the Blues game unscathed and that’s a good start. But the last couple of months have been like murder for me because the performances by the Ospreys have been really impressive. We’ve been doing so well and it’s been difficult watching on because you want to be a part of it.

“The injuries have been frustrating especially since the Lions tour as everything was going so well for me – I’ve been on a downer. I just wanted to get back as soon as I could and it was nice to get a full game under my belt.

"Playing against the Blues was a big game for me to start in but the lungs held up well. The hits were coming in thick and fast and that’s exactly what I needed."

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