British & Irish Lions 2013

O'Driscoll seeks ruthless Lions

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 19:27
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There's huge competition for places
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Brian O'Driscoll has urged the British and Irish Lions to be ruthless in pursuit of their first series win in 16 years over the next month against the Wallabies in Australia.

The Lions, representing the combined might of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, have not won a series since beating the Springboks in 1997 and lost 1-2 to the Wallabies when they last toured Down Under in 2001.

The inspirational Irish centre will lead the Lions in the absence through injury of tour captain Sam Warburton in the tourists' first Australian match against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

O'Driscoll, 34, is on his fourth Lions tour and is the sole survivor of the last series in Australia 12 years ago. He is looked on as an inspirational figure in the touring squad.

Lions coach Warren Gatland said with O'Driscoll leading the side, the tourists would be ready to start their visit to Australia with a win.

"This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected leader," Gatland said.

O'Driscoll, who was the Lions captain on their 2005 tour of New Zealand, said there was "huge competition" for Test places within the 37-man squad.

"We've got to try to build on that mentality of being ruthless and making ourselves very difficult to beat," O'Driscoll said.

"That started last weekend in Hong Kong and that will carry out through the course of this tour.

"We're in a good place, I think we've got a strong squad and there's huge competition for places so you don't want to have any individual or collective bad performances at this stage, you want to try and build towards that first Test match [on June 22]."

Warburton, who missed the Lions' 59-8 hammering of the Barbarians in Hong Kong, remains sidelined with ligament damage.

The Force are promising a physical test for the 23-man matchday squad, which contains eight Lions debutants and will not include any players who started against the Barbarians on Saturday.

"At this stage it's not worrying about the opposition, it's just building on ourselves and we're not looking too much at the Australian sides at the moment, we'll start to do that a little bit latter," Gatland said.

"It's about reviewing our own performances and improving on those. We're still getting to know calls and patterns and structures and building on combinations as well.

"The game on Wednesday it's about us and we've had a little look at the Force and the way they've been playing and we've got a gameplan to go out and attack them with."

Five of Wednesday's team - Manu Tuilagi, Sean O'Brien, Ian Evans, Dan Cole and Rory Best - will be making their Lions debuts, while six of them played off the bench against the Barbarians.

Fullback Rob Kearney has a hamstring injury and will not play against either the Force or the Queensland Reds on Saturday in Brisbane, team officials added.

Meanwhile, the Force said they are preparing to give the Lions a torrid time in their first hit-out in Australia.

Force skipper Matt Hodgson said even if his team failed to beat the Lions, they at least want to leave them with a few bumps and bruises. They will name their side on Tuesday.

"I think any loss is going to be a blow to them," Hodgson said. "They've probably come out and pencilled in victories in most of their games leading up to the Test matches.

"So if we can't get the win, we're going to give them a solid performance and hopefully hurt a few of their bodies."

SAPA

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