| 18.8°C Dublin

O'Brien: Waratahs will bring tough test

SEAN O'Brien expects his former Leinster boss Michael Cheika to send out a fired-up New South Wales Waratahs team against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

It promises to be a tough challenge for Cheika, given that he is without 10 players currently in the Australia camp preparing for next week's first Test and a further six on the injured list.

But Lions flanker O'Brien said: "I know 'Cheiks' very well with him being at Leinster.

"He is an animated character as well, so I am sure he will have them fired up and wanting to be really aggressive and come hard at us.

"It's going to be a very tough game, and whatever side is picked for the Lions we are going to have our hands full at the start of the game again.

"They are really going to come at us out of the blocks and try and hurt us, so it's going to be massively intense again."

The Lions travelled by road two hours down the coast from Newcastle to Sydney today, where they were greeted by leaden skies and pouring rain.

Head coach Warren Gatland will name his starting line-up for the Waratahs encounter tomorrow.

Some previous Lions coaches have used the final Saturday game before the first international to give the probable Test side a run-out, but it is not thought Gatland will go down that route.

The back-row and second-row combinations remain fiercely contested, although his potential Test three-quarter line of Alex Cuthbert, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts and George North all played yesterday.

Asked if he expected the Test team to feature, O'Brien added: "Your guess is as good as mine. I don't think so, but who knows?

"It is all up in the air in every position, and we are just trying to do our own jobs and keep the head down and the coaches will pick the Test side."

O'Brien could find himself in the Test back-row mix, although a bench role looks more likely, given his ability to cover both flanker roles and number eight.

He featured at blindside against the Country XV, with in-form Welshman Justin Tipuric wearing the number seven shirt.

"I dropped a ball in the second half in their 22, but other than that I was happy enough," he said.

"I did what I had to do, job-wise, and kept working to the very end."