Sunday 18 March 2018

O'Driscoll's reputation not enough to earn Lions call – Guscott

Brian O'Driscoll in action for Ireland
Brian O'Driscoll in action for Ireland
David Kelly

David Kelly

Former England midfield maestro Jeremy Guscott has warned that Brian O'Driscoll's reputation will not be enough to guarantee a berth on next summer's Lions Test team to face Australia.

Guscott admitted to concerns about O'Driscoll's fitness issues last weekend when cautioning against a populist rush to install the 34-year-old as Lions captain ahead of what would be a fourth tour.

Guscott (below) admitted, however, that if the Dubliner continues his blistering opening to the Six Nations, then there would be no question of the former Irish captain deserving not only a start, but also perhaps the armband.

"I've picked him in the team, then I didn't pick him," says Guscott, whose drop goal clinched the last Lions Test series win, in South Africa 16 years ago.

"People were wondering what he may be like after he returned from injury. But he's confirmed that form is temporary and class is forever.

"But he may have a shocker against England. I'm not saying that he will, but the possibility is there.

"Just as it is for Chris Robshaw. So my mind is like the weather at the coast. It's changing all the time.

"For me, O'Driscoll is the greatest centre I've seen in the last decade. He's probably the best rugby player we've had in the northern hemisphere in the last 10 years.

"But that doesn't give him the right to walk into the Lions side. He knows that. I know that. The Lions selectors know that.

"He'll get in there only on merit. But let's face it, if he plays the rest of the championship like he did last weekend, you can't leave him out."

As for being named captain, Guscott, in town as part of the 'Guinness Conversations' series with Today FM, reckons that political issues could play in his favour.

"Whether he's captain? Politically it might be the right move with so much Welsh and English influence in the coaching staff.

"He has got unfinished business with the Lions. He's achieved as much as he can with Leinster. Okay, he has only one Grand Slam, but it's better than none.

"He will be disappointed with the Lions. They should have won in 2001, and 2009 and 2005 went all wrong because of his injury. So winning a Lions tour is all that's left.

"O'Driscoll wants to be captain, but every player wants to be captain. He has to deserve to go on that tour. He cannot go on reputation alone."

Irish Independent

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