Dewi Lake

Wales star Lake looking towards a joyful future

Dewi Lake is aiming to play his part in helping put some joy back into Welsh rugby.

It’s been a difficult season for the game in Wales with the Test team suffering a Six Nations whitewash and three of the regions lying in the bottom four of the BKT URC table.

But Lake’s Ospreys are still in with a chance of making the play-offs with two rounds of matches to go.

And, on the international front, he believes there is hope for the future with the emergence of a number of talented youngsters.

The hooker’s immediate focus is on Saturday’s meeting with the Dragons in Swansea and the Judgement Day showdown against Cardiff Rugby in two weeks time - games the Ospreys have to win to keep alive their hopes of a top eight finish.

Then the focus will switch to Wales who have a Twickenham Test against South Africa next month followed by a tour of Australia.

“It’s about giving something back to the people who support and watch,” said the fit-again Lake.

“There are a lot of people who put a lot of time into Welsh rugby and want it to do well.

“I think there’s an onus on us as a country, whether it’s regional or international games, to give back to those people who pay to come to grounds and support.

“That’s the important thing, whether it’s in the summer with Wales or here with the Ospreys now.

“It’s our last home game of the season this weekend and it’s about putting in a good performance against the Dragons for the people who pay to watch and want to get joy from watching Welsh rugby.”

Having picked up a hamstring injury in January, the 12-times capped Lake was a spectator during the Six Nations as Wales picked up the wooden spoon.

“It was obviously tough as a supporter, as a fan, but I am sure it was a lot tougher for the boys involved,” he said.

“You know the hard work they would have put in week-in, week-out. I was gutted for the boys.

“Results didn’t go the way of the Wales team, but you’ve got the positives of having a young group who are gaining experience at international level.

“You look at some of the boys that came out of it having good campaigns - Cam Winnett, Alex Mann - youngsters having their first taste of international rugby. That’s going to be great for the future of Welsh rugby.”

Lake, who turned 25 this week, will be hoping to be back involved on the Test scene this summer.

“It’s always the goal,” he said.

“Selection is not mine to make. I have got to play well in this jersey first and earn the right to hopefully wear the Welsh jersey again.

“I won't count my chickens before they hatch. There’s a lot to do here first in terms of where we want to be finishing and the goals we have set ourselves.

“But it’s definitely a goal of mine to get back into the red jersey and hopefully be involved this summer.

“There are a couple of interesting games coming up on the international scene, playing two of the best teams in the world, which will be exciting.”

It’s been a challenging nine months for Lake on the fitness front, with a knee problem impacting his involvement at the World Cup, where he was co-captain with fellow Ospreys forward Jac Morgan, and then his hamstring issue ruling him out of the Six Nations.

But now he’s back playing, having figured in the URC defeats to the Vodacom Bulls and Leinster Rugby.

“It’s been a tough year injury-wise, it’s never nice to be injured, but it’s part and parcel of the game. It happens to everyone, not just me,” he said.

“It's about coming back fit and strong and getting back into the swing of things.

“The last two results haven’t been what we wanted, but it’s been a joy to be back on the field with the boys and back playing in an Ospreys jersey.

“You are not going to win every game, but it’s how you bounce back after those losses. They were two tough ones for us against two top four sides.

“We have got two Welsh derbies coming up now.

“Whatever will be will be, I guess, in terms of the play-offs.

“It’s a very competitive league. To get further in it and into post-season stuff would be a great achievement for any team.

“We are fighting for a play-off position and that’s the goal we set at the start of the season.”

Looking ahead to the Swansea showdown with the Dragons, he said: “We have been quite strong at home this season. Not many teams have come down to the stadium and turned us over.

“We talked about being a tough team to beat in general, but especially in front of our home support.

“Hopefully, in our last home game, we can give our fans something to cheer about again.

“The Dragons have got some strong players and will be wanting to attack us and bring the game to us.

“We are not taking them for granted. They have been unlucky with some results this year.

“It’s about being ourselves and giving them a good battle.”