O'Driscoll sets sights on Lions series victory
April 9, 2013
Ireland veteran Brian O'Driscoll has been widely tipped to earn selection on what would be his fourth Lions tour later this year © PA Photos
Brian O'Driscoll has spoken of his burning desire to add a series victory with the British & Irish Lions to his glittering rugby CV.
The veteran Ireland centre, who has tasted Six Nations, Heineken Cup and PRO12 glory, has toured with the Lions on three previous occasions and suffered agonising series defeats against Australia in 2001 and South Africa in 2009 while a controversial tackle brought a premature end to his contribution in New Zealand in 2005.
O'Driscoll is out of contract with Leinster and the Irish Rugby Football Union at the end of this season with speculation rife about his playing future but he has repeatedly deflected talk of retirement with the 33-year-old set to confirm his plans after what he hopes will be another appearance in the world famous red jersey of the Lions.
"Playing for the Lions is the ultimate in your career, such a massive honour. You only have to look at the quality of some of the players who have never been on a Lions tour to realise that," O'Driscoll told the official Lions website. "Playing in that calibre of team, and training day in, day out with that level of player, brings out the best in you. It's hugely exciting.
"I would love to be a part of a Lions team capable of winning a Test series and I think the team being put together by [coach] Warren Gatland is definitely capable of doing that in Australia. It's not a question of me having some unfinished business after 2001 - I just want to play in a winning Lions team."
Ireland struggled in this year's Six Nations and narrowly avoided finishing bottom of the table but O'Driscoll still caught the eye and is widely expected to be named in Gatland's squad when he announces it on April 30. His push for further Lions honours was dealt a significant blow with a recent three-week ban for stamping on Italy's Simone Favaro but he is now free to return to action starting with Leinster's PRO12 showdown with Munster this weekend.
"You can't really allow yourself to think too much about Lions selection in April. It is a serious time of the season for a lot of players and certain players will be hopeful of getting selected," he said. "But you just have to keep on trying to improve and make a few more headaches for the coaches. It is the last chance to leave a lasting impression and I will be no different to any other player in that respect this month. You mustn't over think it - just get on with what you do week in, week out."
O'Driscoll has already hinted that he may play on beyond this season but it appears only time will tell if the forthcoming Lions tour will be the last act in his outstanding career. "Who knows what the final act will be in my career. I just have to play it out this season and see how things unfold. Then I'll make a call after that," he said. "I'm not under any massive pressure to make a decision. I will see what happens over the next few months and take a look at things in July."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside