Monday 20 August 2018

'I said it after the game, this can't happen for the rest of the tour' - How Sean O'Brien helped swing Lions series

1 July 2017; Sean OBrien of the British & Irish Lions runs out ahead of the Second Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
1 July 2017; Sean OBrien of the British & Irish Lions runs out ahead of the Second Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Sean O'Brien was back to his barn-storming best during last summer's Lions tour to New Zealand and the Ireland flanker has lifted the lid on how the team prepared to take on the All Blacks.

The Lions recovered from a defeat in the opening test - which saw O'Brien finish off a sensational team score - to secure a series draw after winning the second test in Wellington before tying the final game at Eden Park.

The Tullow Tank was close to his peak in the Lions back row, earning a huge amount of plaudits for his test match performances, but speaking to Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast, O'Brien revealed that the preparation in the build-up to the crunch clashes wasn't ideal.

Listen and subscribe to The Left Wing on iTunes and Soundcloud.

 

The 30-year-old feels that head coach Warren Gatland and the coaching staff did too much training ahead of the first and third All Blacks games.

"The more games you get, the better you get and sometimes the training load on tour can be quite light," O'Brien said.

"But then you are fresher for games. I do think around the test games we didn't get it quite right. I think the coaches might have panicked a bit the first week and done a little bit too much with us on a Thursday before the first test and the same going into the last test.

"We had a couple of days off [the third test week] but we didn't do enough at the start of the week and then we were chasing our tails a little bit.

"We had Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off and trained heavily Wednesday, trained Thursday again with a pitch session and then did the Captain's run Friday but then lads were playing catch-up with info and legs were heavy."

O'Brien was asked whether the increased training schedule was necessary to get incoming players up to speed on the task of slaying the All Blacks, but the Leinster star was more inclined to believe that the coaches just made an error in selecting the training days.

"I think it was just the schedule, I don't think they got the right days off. Looking back now we probably should have had Sunday and Monday off and done a good, tough session on Tuesday. Then had Wednesday off again and had the Captain's run on Thursday. Then you are fresh and ready to rock for a test game. The week leading into the first test we had a triple day for the forwards on the Thursday. We had units, then a weights session and then another pitch session in the afternoon."

O'Brien spoke up after the first test to voice his misgivings about the amount of training the squad had done before the match, with the Lions subsequently avoiding defeat in the final two test matches.

"I said it after that game, that this can't happen for the rest of the tour," O'Brien said.

"Lads were completely flogged. It wasn't as bad for the third test it was just that from Wednesday to the game we were on our feet."

 

Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

Listen and subscribe to The Left Wing on iTunes and Soundcloud.

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