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Brian O'Driscoll sounds rallying cry for Lion

Updated: Saturday, 22 Jun 2013 11:40 | Comments

Brian O'Driscoll is ready to make his mark against Australia
Brian O'Driscoll is ready to make his mark against Australia

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Brian O'Driscoll has delivered an impassioned eve-of-Test address on why the British and Irish Lions hold such a unique place in world rugby.

Four-time Lions tourist O'Driscoll will make his seventh Test appearance in the famous red jersey against Australia tomorrow, returning to the city where he made a try-scoring debut 12 years ago.

And the Ireland centre believes as passionately now in everything the Lions stand for as at any time throughout his stellar career.

"You realise the number of people that play your sport, and you've been selected among the top 37 players in Britain and Ireland," he said.

"With the calibre of players that go on Lions tours, I think that - married with the history of great Lions tours like 1971, 1974, 1989, 1997 - are memorable moments for people who are Lions fans.

"And it's so unique that four countries are shouting for you for a seven-week period. It is kind of bizarre, but it's brilliant, and for them to have love for you as a collective for that period makes it unique and very, very special.

"You see it in the first-time Lions players, and you see how big it is for them. One hit of it is not enough. If you can get a second or a third hit, you crave that.

"You see it in the disappointment of those that didn't get selected that this is the ultimate for a British or Irish player.

"It is a very special jersey, and the respect that jersey holds is identified with people always wanting it."

"It is a very special jersey, and the respect that jersey holds is identified with people always wanting it." - Brian O'Driscoll

O'Driscoll's brilliant solo try at The Gabba in 2001 is one of the most replayed moments in modern-day Lions history.

So far, though, it is the only Test victory he has savoured as a Lion, and he added: "It is a different existence from 2001, the level of detail we go to.

"We did a long season in 2001, yet were still going out and doing hour, hour-and-a-half, sometimes two-hour pitch sessions, sometimes twice a day.

"If I did that now I'd have died a couple of weeks ago! You couldn't survive that, such is the intensity of the games. You can't train like Tarzan and play like Jane, you've got to do it the other way round."

O'Driscoll has been impressed with the Lions class of 2013, showering praise today on tour captain Sam Warburton and the forwards who will aim to lay victory foundations tomorrow.

"I think if you have a look at our pack and individually you look at all eight, and they are all bloody impressive players. It is exciting seeing yourself named in a team with forwards of that calibre," he said.

"They all bring different attributes to our game-plan, and I think if they all have big performances they can do damage to any pack in the world.

"The thing I like about Sam is that he's not someone that speaks for the sake of speaking, but when he does he definitely has the attention of his team. I've been impressed by him.

"I have enjoyed being able to be a senior player and add my tuppence-worth when it's asked of me, or where I feel that I can add to sessions or add to team meetings.

"In all teams there is one captain, but it's important to have leaders scattered throughout as well that can take some of that pressure off the captain."

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