British & Irish Lions
Hibbard looks to bury Wallaby ghosts
May 9, 2013
Richard Hibbard in action against the Brumbies last summer © Getty Images
Richard Hibbard is desperate to make amends against Australia for the British & Irish Lions after enduring a difficult series last summer.
Hibbard was a key member of Wales' 2013 Six Nations-winning squad but last summer he was dropped by the management following their second Test against the Wallabies - it was a series which ended in a 3-0 loss.
In the second Test Hibbard played just 14 minutes but he made an unwanted contribution by giving away two critical penalties, the second of which allowed Mike Harris to give Australia a 25-23 victory with the last kick of the match. As a result, Hibbard was dropped from the squad for the third Test, and his international future appeared in doubt.
But he has bounced back admirably during the 2013 championship and the Ospreys forward now wants to use his experiences in a positive way and not repeat the same mistakes. He said: "On a personal note, this is a good chance to put the demons of last summer behind me.
"It was a dark time - not being involved in the first Test, then coming in for the second and losing it and then being dropped for the third. It was difficult and, Australia being such a faraway place, it wasn't as if you could hop on a train and go home.
"But I used it as motivation from the start of this season, believing what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. When I get criticism, I know how to dust myself down and I know there's not much worse that can happen to me than happened out there. You don't get many second chances and this one comes with an excellent group of players, so there's a real opportunity to put what happened last year to bed."
Hibbard missed Wales' 2011 World Cup campaign due to injury and when he limped off against Glasgow three weeks ago, there were fears he would miss out on the British & Irish Lions tour. But Hibbard, who damaged a medial ligament in his knee against the Warriors, is hopeful of returning to full fitness before the Lions fly out. He said: "I'm hoping to be back in training within a couple of weeks.
"I'm pleased with the way it's going. When the injury happened, I thought: 'I'm cursed'. But we have great physios at the Ospreys and with luck I'll be going at full tilt as soon as I return."
With memories of the whitewash of Wales still fresh in their minds, many Australians believes the selection of a large Welsh contingent in the 37-man Lions is a positive for the Wallabies. But Hibbard does not expect there to be a mental barrier facing the Wales players.
"There definitely won't be a psychological hurdle for us," he said. "Had we played Australia in the Six Nations we would have beaten them. We've beaten ourselves at times, not just in the Australia games, but in other matches last autumn. Little things were costing us games, but we've put all those to bed after the Ireland game. Now the challenge is to take them on and beat them."
© Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.