Sport Rugby

Monday 22 September 2014

O'Driscoll insists revenge talk 'nonsense' as he looks to slay Wallabies

Published 15/11/2013 | 01:00

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Paul O’Connell goes through his paces during the Irish training session at Carton House yesterday

Brian O'Driscoll has dismissed all thoughts of revenge for his Lions demotion as he prepares to win his 127th cap against Australia – who were the opponents when he won his first, 14 years ago in Brisbane.

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O'Driscoll was famously dumped when the Lions secured the Test series in Sydney last summer but, as he prepares to renew a long-standing rivalry with the Wallabies for the 12th time with Ireland – and 17th overall – he was keen to deflect any personal motivation.

"It's just another game," said the 34-year-old, who will face Australia for the final time as he prepares for retirement at the end of the season.

"It's the second game of the Joe Schmidt tenure and it's about how we improve on the first one. It's not about revenge, that's nonsense. I played twice against them during the summer. That's gone and people need to let go of it. I know I have let go of it."

Schmidt has maintained his status as a ruthless selector, binning two Lions, Conor Murray and Gordon D'Arcy, in making six changes from the side that romped to a five-try success against Samoa last weekend.

Unsurprisingly, Paul O'Connell returns to captain the team along with three other returning Lions – Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton and Sean O'Brien. O'Connell links up with O'Driscoll for the first time since the 2011 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales.

D'Arcy and Paddy Jackson, who both started against Samoa, are omitted from the 23 entirely as Ian Madigan and Robbie Henshaw provide broader bench options.

"I think it's a really good team," said Schmidt. "We're trying to grow the group a little bit so we can be as competitive on the field as we possibly can be."

Australia have called up prop Sekope Kepu in place of the rested Ben Alexander and recalled flanker Scott Fardy for the Lansdowne Road sell-out.

Irish Independent

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