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O'Driscoll is full of pride for the lions

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Brian O'Driscoll dives over for a Lions try against Combined Country. Picture credit: David Rogers / GETTY IMAGES

Brian O'Driscoll dives over for a Lions try against Combined Country. Picture credit: David Rogers / GETTY IMAGES

Brian O'Driscoll dives over for a Lions try against Combined Country. Picture credit: David Rogers / GETTY IMAGES

THE British and Irish Lions continued their mostly unopposed march through Australia in a 64-0 whitewash of Combined Country where they will have shown the Wallabies almost as little as they would have learned – nothing.

For all the brouhaha spinning around the mystic of the Lions, this tour, to date, mirrors that of the main broadcaster – Sky Sports. It is all about the hype.

It is a financial company gathering in cash as Warren Gatland and his players set about building relationships on and off the field. The matches are mere pit stops on the way to 'The Show' that is the test series.

The fact that the Australian franchise clubs have had their Wallabies removed from the pre-test arena demeans the tour and devalues the influence of these regional matches as a source of meaningful rugby.

For instance, Wales' Alex Cuthbert is a likely test starter on Saturday week now that Tommy Bowe has been injured. This is all very well and fine.

But the one-dimensional giant wing has not been tested on the back-foot other than to be exposed by Queensland's Luke Morahan at Suncorp Stadium.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll pointed to the Lions shut-out as the greatest cause for satisfaction against a rabble of New South Wales-Queensland Country players which included nine amateurs in their starting line-up.

"I guess we didn't know what to expect from the opposition, but they certainly gave us a full 80 and tested us at times," O'Driscoll said, diplomatically.

"One of the most pleasing factors is we kept them to zero. We put a lot of emphasis on our defence and we are pleased with that aspect."

Certainly, Gatland is keeping his test cards close to his chest. He is unlikely to give his test squad a run-out against a depleted New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Doubtless, there will be a heavy Welsh accent on test selection as the injuries have eaten into options, Bowe, Rob Kearney, to this point, and Cian Healy have been denied proper opportunity by injury.

The assimilation process is second nature to fourth-time tourist O'Driscoll and third-time traveller Paul O'Connell. "There is good team spirit there," noted O'Driscoll.

"There are a lot of us who have only been together for two and a half weeks so the more time you spend in each other's pockets then the more you start to know each other's inner secrets. You form a tight bond."

Strolled

Gatland has chosen to hide the game plan behind closed doors as they have, literally, strolled through their four matches – Queensland Reds were the exception to the rule – for no loss.

They have run up 214 points for the concession of 37. This is a reflection of the non-events three of the four matches have turned out to be.

The Lions have been able to work in third gear, keeping many of their test match strategies under wraps – Stuart Hogg, for instance, was able to line out at fly-half for the first time for years and enjoy an armchair ride in Newcastle yesterday.

"The team is going to grow with games and we will be able to try new things to make sure we keep the Wallabies guessing," said O'Driscoll.

"Hopefully, there is a little bit more to come. The more games we play together, the more opportunity we will have to gel. The more we are enjoying each other's company, we are able to express that out on the pitch."


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