Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Lions to Win Down under; O'Driscoll the Likely Leader

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Lions to Win Down under; O'Driscoll the Likely Leader

Article excerpt

BRITISH and Irish Lions manager Andy Irvine has put into sharp focus the significance of Saturday's Test decider against Australia in Sydney.

The Lions, who look set to be captained by Brian O'Driscoll instead of an injured Sam Warburton (hamstring), will be back on the training field today following two days' break in Noosa.

Coach Warren Gatland announces his team today, with centre Jamie Roberts, scrum-half Mike Phillips and prop Alex Corbisiero all in contention after missing the Second-Test defeat.

"We think Saturday's game is so important because, quite frankly, it's about time we won in the southern hemisphere," Irvine said.

"We haven't won here (Australia) since 1989, we haven't won in the southern hemisphere since 1997. We were extremely close in 2009, we've been extremely close on this tour.

"One kick succeeded on Saturday, one failed. All you needed was for one of those kicks to go the other way and we would have been 2-0 and the series would have been in the bag. Their (players') pride has been dented, but they are model pros. They will be really determined to still win this series.

"Don't have any sympathy for them.

They have had a great couple of days' break, a chance to unwind and do really good recovery in the sea, and a bit of peace and quiet, but it is down to hard work tomorrow."

Irvine described the loss of Wales flanker Warburton as "a serious blow".

"In the first half of the Second Test I thought he was the outstanding player on the park. He was quite magnificent," Irvine added.

"Obviously, he is extremely disappointed at not being available because this is going to be one of the biggest games the Lions have played in the last 30 to 40 years . . . . we can't hide from it.

It is a big blow to us." Ireland centre O'Driscoll is the firm favourite to take over as skipper. At 34, it is set to be his ninth and final Lions Test stretching across four tours, although Gatland does have other possible captains in lock Alun-Wyn Jones and number eight Jamie Heaslip.

"Brian, I think, has been one of the greatest players on the planet in the last 20-30 years. …

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