Wednesday 25 April 2018

Brian O'Driscoll on revenge mission against Aussies

Sexton: Legend will aim to heal Lions wounds

Brian O'Driscoll in action against Samoa last weekend
Brian O'Driscoll in action against Samoa last weekend
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JOHNNY SEXTON believes Brian O'Driscoll will want to take his Lions frustration out on Australia this weekend.

The fly-half has declared himself fit for the week ahead after missing out on Saturday's 40-9 win over Samoa and is looking forward to reclaiming the green jersey he last occupied in February's Six Nations defeat to England.

His former Leinster colleague O'Driscoll returned to Ireland action at Lansdowne Road against the Samoans and came through 70 minutes of action unscathed.

With his retirement looming at the end of the season, the legendary centre faces his final battle with the Wallabies, a team some of his defining moments have come against, on Saturday evening.

He was denied his crowning glory as a Lion against them when he was left out of the match-day squad for last July's final Test, and Sexton reckons that he will have a point to prove after returning to fitness.

"The 70 minutes would have stood to him, to come through injury-free, and there is another big week now. I'm sure he'll be trying to show against Australia what we would have seen in the third Test," Sexton said.

"I'm sure that's his mindset, it always is with Brian. He's very competitive and I'm sure he's looking forward to his last chance against the southern hemisphere teams."

Ireland have jumped from eighth to sixth in the IRB world rankings as a result of Saturday's win, but they have lost Chris Henry for the series with a torn hamstring, and Keith Earls' knee injury will keep him out of the meeting with Australia.

Tommy Bowe sat out training yesterday, having taken a kick to the calf that has resulted in bruising, and that injury will be monitored on a day-to-day basis.

Sexton came through training, while Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien, Cian Healy and Mike Ross also completed their returns from injury without a hitch.

Leinster's Luke Fitzgerald and Shane Jennings have been called up to the squad ahead of the meeting with the Wallabies.

Racing Metro fly-half Sexton says he feels fine, having overcome the hip flexor strain that kept him out of training last week and saw him miss the Samoa game.

"It's fine," said Sexton. "It was on my other side (non-kicking leg). I had done a good bit on my left foot with Dave Alred (kicking coach) on the Wednesday and then on Thursday, two weeks ago, it tightened up a little bit in training.

"I had to go Paris and sit on the bench the next day (against Biarritz) and it was at me a bit.

"I was a bit worried about it coming on, thankfully the club chose not to bring me on.

"Then Joe (Schmidt) decided to leave me out and I got a scan and it was a little tight. The scan showed a little strain and it was thought best to rest (it) for the week and I didn't train, but now it's great.

"It was a massive blow for me to miss out on the weekend. I haven't played since the Wales and England games in the Six Nations back in February.

"It feels like ages since I put on the green jersey, so I was mad keen to play."

Irish Independent

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