BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 26 January 2021
Advertisement

Missing out on Lions captaincy might be a blessing — O’Driscoll

“Not being captain definitely does take a pressure off you,” says four-time tourist Brian O’Driscoll as he looks ahead to Australia.

Brian O'Driscoll is an adidas ambassador and has been selected for the British & Irish Lions squad. The Lions shirt is available from adidas.ie and Elverys stores nationwide. Join the conversation @adidasUK.
Brian O'Driscoll is an adidas ambassador and has been selected for the British & Irish Lions squad. The Lions shirt is available from adidas.ie and Elverys stores nationwide. Join the conversation @adidasUK.
Image: INPHO

WITHOUT THE BURDEN of the captaincy, Brian O’Driscoll hopes the pressure will be off him in Australia — and he can then help the Lions to that elusive series win.

With the experience of three tours behind him, including his ill-fated captaincy in New Zealand eight years ago, many expected O’Driscoll to be on Warren Gatland’s shortlist of leaders for this summer.

But when it came to the crunch at last week’s squad announcement it was first-time tourist Sam Warburton who got the nod as Gatland instead deferred to the man he knows best.

There was no surprise or disappointment, O’Driscoll says. If anything, it might be a good thing.

“There are a lot of stresses that come with being captain and when I wasn’t selected as captain in ’09, I was really able to enjoy the tour.

“Hopefully Sam mightn’t read any of these words and I don’t want to take away from his role because it’s such a huge honour that will eclipse any other feeling.

From my point of view looking at it, not being captain definitely does take a pressure off you and you’re able to look on the tour and look after yourself a little bit more and give a helping hand, rather than being a big focal point in the tour.

With Manu Tuilagi, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies all jostling for place in a competitive midfield, O’Driscoll says he can’t even take it for granted that he will start the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on 22 June.

“I think we are different types of players, but that doesn’t necessarily say that one of us has one skill set and the others don’t. I think we’re all good at different aspects. The form of the centres has been pretty good this year for the guys with Manu and Jamie and John — in the Six Nations I thought they were very good.

“I think there’s going to be huge competition and training is going to show an awful lot. When you do get the opportunity to wear the jersey and you’re picked in games, you have to impress. That’s your audition.”

He’s been in this position three times before and on all three occasions, a series win has proved to be a step too far for O’Driscoll and his Lions packmates. Amid the ongoing speculation about his playing future, could this be the one?

Getting selected was part of it because it’s hard to win a series when you’re not in the 37. Then once you’re there, it’s not about going down and having fun. This is really just about trying to win a series.

Having a good time along the way will help towards uniting the squad and getting them playing for one another, but really the be all and end all of this tour is winning the series.

He adds: “I think there’s every chance. It’ll be tight, those games will obviously be tight. The Australians, from the Super Rugby I’ve seen, they’re starting to hot up and they’ll be really well organised by the time they come together in June.

“Looking at that squad, it’s a powerful squad that has a nice balance to it so I think there’s a great opportunity to go down and win a series for sure.”

‘Everyone wants to go out on their own terms’: Fergie’s farewell gives BOD plenty to ponder

About the author:

Niall Kelly

Read next:

COMMENTS (1)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel