Friday 22 November 2019

'He's a guy you want in the trenches' - Brian O'Driscoll backs Donnacha Ryan to be a bolter for the Lions

Former British & Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll has backed Munster and Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan to be a bolter for this summer's Lions tour of New Zealand.

Ryan, who has been overlooked for the last three Lions tours, will face some very stiff competition for places in Warren Gatland's squad with the second-row one of the most competitive positions across the entire squad, but O'Driscoll feels like his former teammate can provide some real grunt to the Lions pack and should come under some genuine consideration for this summer's tour.

"In Munster, I talked about potential bolters and I didn't think there was going to be any," O'Driscoll told former Lions teammate Ugo Monye and Chris Jones on BBC Radio Five Live's Rugby Weekly podcast.

"But I'm thinking there might be one now with the wealth of quality in the second-row, no one has mentioned Donnacha Ryan as a possible bolter

"I feel like he could do a brilliant job for the Lions as a midweek player. He's never going to play a test match I don't think, such is the caliber of the other second-row's, but I wouldn't be shocked to find him on tour.

"He's a really good guy, very popular amongst his peers, and he's a guy you want in the trenches rolling your sleeves up when the going gets tough."

O'Driscoll also said that he feels like Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien will have done enough to make Warren Gatland's squad, and that Gatland will not have forgotten the 30-year-old's performances on the Lions 2013 tour of Australia.

O'Brien started at openside flanker for the Lions series deciding finale against the Wallabies in the third test in Sydney, and despite a wealth of injuries since then, the Carlow native was back to his bustling best last weekend as he led all Leinster forwards in metres made, with 77 metres from 15 carries during the Blues 32-17 win over Wasps at the Aviva Stadium.

O'Brien was immense for Leo Cullen's side, and although he was inconsistent at times during the Six Nations, O'Driscoll feels he'll be a very hard player to leave off the plane when Warren Gatland announces his squad later this month in London.

"It was a big audition for Sean O'Brien, particularly playing against Haskell, I thought he won the first leg of it in the Ireland-england game, and now I think he's 2-0 up after the weekend," added the former Ireland centre.

"Whether that's done enough to get him on the plane - I don't think he's been in the best form of his life - but the reality is that he was the seven four years ago.

"He smashed Australia, and Warren Gatland will remember that and knows what he can deliver. He's a tough guy, and he's a guy you want to bring into combat so I think he's given himself every opportunity."

Gatland will name his Lions squad on Wednesday April 19, 2017 at the Hilton London Syon Park.

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