O'Driscoll showdown adds spark for Country artisans
THE Lions will face carpenters, an apprentice plumber and a trade assistant labourer when they play the Combined Country at the Hunter Stadium in Newcastle today. The most outstanding mismatch, however, is likely to be the head-to-head between Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll and Country centre Lewie Catt, a full-time electrical engineer.
Before today's contest, Catt's highlight in rugby was helping Hamilton to a 46-0 rout of Merewether in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final last season. The biggest crowd to have watched him was 2,000 people at a Super Rugby game at the Allianz Stadium.
Catt admitted he was nervous about the prospect of facing O'Driscoll, who with 125 Tests is the most capped centre in world rugby, but the 25-year-old insisted marking the Ireland centre would fulfil a lifetime ambition.
"It is what dreams are made of," Catt said. "I have an opportunity to play against the best centre in world rugby. He is a superstar, there's no other word for it. When he was out here last time (on the Lions tour in 2001), he basically did what he wanted at will."
In another mismatch, Lions wing George North, one of the stars of this tour, faces Alex Gibbon, an apprentice plumber. Catt, however, insisted that they would not be fearful, despite the Lions being 2,000/1 on to win.
"I will be a bit nervous running out,'' he said. "The aim will be to get in early and get a first touch. Being in camp for the past couple of days, I have had a taste of it. I'm jealous of the boys who get to live this type of life." (© Daily Telegraph, London)