/ Rugby

Brian O'Driscoll calls for cool heads ahead of the final test against Australia on Saturday

Updated: Monday, 01 Jul 2013 22:55 | Comments

The Lions are bidding for a first series win since 2001
The Lions are bidding for a first series win since 2001

Captain-elect Brian O'Driscoll is poised for his British and Irish Lions swansong on Saturday, but he has insisted: "You can't let the emotion take over."

The 34-year-old will end a fourth Lions tour of duty stretching back to 2001 hoping he can fill one missing entry in a career portfolio packed with trophy successes.

Had the Lions held on to a six-point lead in Melbourne last weekend it would have been done and dusted by now.

But Sydney beckons in five days' time and a series decider that will be the biggest rugby union game played in Australia since the 2003 World Cup final.

And O'Driscoll has been around long enough to know that cool heads, accuracy and composure must be the key ingredients for a Lions team desperate to end a 16-year wait since Test series glory was last achieved.

"You have to have a certain amount of emotion in all games, and in games where the stakes are as high as they are next weekend that has to come into play," said O'Driscoll, who looks set to be named skipper after Sam Warburton was today ruled out by a hamstring injury.

"But you can't let the emotion take over.

"I think accuracy is vitally important. Both teams lacked accuracy last Saturday at times. There were some unforced errors from both sides, and to string phases together you have to be accurate.

"They have been two incredibly keenly-contested games. Both of them should probably have gone the other way that they did, and it now culminates with a winner-takes-all.

"We knew we were never going to get it easy against Australia, and it has been proved.

"Yes, there is disappointment and you have to have a little bit of a mourning period after any loss, but the spirits of the guys have been picked up.

"It is important to be able to feel the disappointment, because if you try to banish it immediately it will come back to you, and it still does at times throughout the day.

"You kind of think how scenarios could be different - having a series in the bag, rather than one still to go and fight for.

"But then after a couple of days you just have to have the ability to shelve it and focus on the target. One more 80 minutes this season is all that is asked of everyone in the squad - the 80 minutes of their lives." 

"We knew we were never going to get it easy against Australia, and it has been proved" - Brian O'Driscoll

Lions coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up on Wednesday, with changes expected from Melbourne.

Centre Jamie Roberts and prop Alex Corbisiero should both come into the selection picture if they show no negative effects from respective hamstring and calf muscle injuries, while Ireland's Sean O'Brien could replace Warburton.

O'Driscoll is set to make a ninth Lions Test match appearance, putting him level with current tour manager Andy Irvine and Syd Millar, and one ahead of players like Martin Johnson, Jim Telfer, JPR Williams and Jeremy Guscott.

"Particularly when you have lost a game, I imagine every place is up for scrutiny, at least, as to whether the person deserves to be in the jersey again," O'Driscoll added.

"I won't go chewing my nails off thinking about it, I will go with the flow like everyone else does. Hopefully, I will be included in that team. If I am not, I will deal with that if the situation arises.

"I am sure over the next 48 hours the coaches will meet and identify the team they feel they want to put out to hopefully win us this series.

"People talk about the momentum going with the team that wins that second Test, and I would have agreed with it in 2001 because it was a comfortable victory they (Australia) had then.

"But just the way the two games have gone, with two points between us in the first one and one point in the second one, just shows how tight it is. I think the team that turns up on Saturday and gets some momentum from early in the game will get the upper hand.

"I wouldn't go and say there is anything particularly that we did 12 years ago (in Australia). Just make sure you don't do too much training. There is a lot in the bank already, so just try to get the detail right and then save the energy for the pitch."

The Lions, having gone so close to claiming the Tom Richards Trophy, must now lift themselves again for what is effectively a second cup final in seven days.

"Jonny Sexton said it's rare after a cup final that you get the chance to relive a cup final again and put the things you did wrong right," O'Driscoll said.

"There is always a mental toll in games of this magnitude. Thankfully, you do get seven days to try to get over one game and have the building process for the next one.

"This game is very much mental as much as it is physical, and all the more so when you play opposition three weeks in a row.

"You definitely get to know each other an awful lot more and you are almost anticipating certain things to happen. There is an element of trying to out-think the opposition."

Live radio coverage of Australia v Lions from 10.55 on Saturday 29 June on RTÉ 2fm and RTÉ.ie (RoI only). 

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