O'Driscoll still 'frustrated' by Lions heartache
January 5, 2013
Brian O'Driscoll is hoping for a return to Lions colours later this year © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll's Career Highlights
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has revealed that the British & Irish Lions failure to claim a series victory over Australia in 2001 continues to frustrate him to this day.
O'Driscoll cemented his status as one of the sport's brightest talents on the Lions' last trip Down Under with an outstanding try in the tourists' first Test victory over the Wallabies the highlight of an enthralling series. But the hosts would go on to claim a memorable series triumph and that agony continues to inspire the soon-to-be 35-year-old to even greater things.
"The 2001 tour to Australia would have been a great highlight in my career if the Lions had won the series," he told The Scotsman. "That might sound strange because it was a great tour in many ways, but, for me, the more time goes by the less of a career highlight it becomes, and just more of a frustration.
"There are great memories, just from being on my first tour and that first Test in Brisbane will live long in the memory of course. It was fantastic to run out in a stadium in Australia rocking with fans in red. We knew we had a big following, but didn't expect that. And then to score and go on to win the first Test was incredible.
"But, the fact is that we should have won the second Test, and we put ourselves in a position to win it, and let the lead slip with a bad half of rugby. We came close, but just lost that third Test too, so when I reflect on it all I can see is a massive missed opportunity."
O'Driscoll would return to famous red shirt in 2005, when his tour was brought to a premature end following a controversial spear tackle at the hands of New Zealand's Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu, and again four years later when he was at the heart of a gutsy Lions side that came just short against South Africa.
Now, primed for another Six Nations campaign having returned from an ankle injury that threatened to derail his season, O'Driscoll has his eyes on another crack at Australia and as no-one has ever captained a Test side more times, he is also a frontrunner to skipper the Lions once again having led the side in 2005.
"The age I am now I try not to look too far ahead," he told the newspaper. "There is nothing like a Lions tour and it is a huge honour for anyone to be selected, but I think, as is the case with representing your country, once you have had that chance once you are more determined to get another crack.
"I try not to look back, but there is a big part of me that would like to experience the emotions of winning a Test series in this famous red jersey, and if I was asked to be captain again it would be impossible to turn down, even though there are huge stresses that go with it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene