Thursday 14 November 2019

Sexton vows to deliver Lions glory for O'Driscoll

Jonathan Sexton gives the thumbs up during training in Sydney yesterday ahead of the today's crucial third and final Test match against Australia
Jonathan Sexton gives the thumbs up during training in Sydney yesterday ahead of the today's crucial third and final Test match against Australia

Conor George

JONATHAN SEXTON believes that the Lions who take the field against Australia this morning owe it to those on the sidelines to deliver victory.

The Racing Metro-bound out-half believes that Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell deserve to be part of a successful Lions tour, even though neither will be involved in the crucial third Test.

"It's an incredible achievement to make four tours and no one deserves it more than Brian," said Sexton at yesterday's Captain's Run.

"Hopefully we can win a Test series for him. He has been trying for a long time and not got one yet. In fact he's only won a few Test matches with the Lions.

"So it would be great for guys like him and Paul O'Connell to finally tick off a huge box after so many years."

Sexton is one of three Irishmen who start today, alongside Sean O'Brien and Tommy Bowe, and the Ulsterman has also revealed the influence that O'Driscoll will have over his team-mates despite being overlooked for a place in the squad by head coach Warren Gatland.

"For someone to take such a knock like that – I think someone said it was his first time being dropped – and to do what he did this week is amazing," said Bowe.

"He trained with the team yesterday and he spoke up. He told us exactly what it meant to him again and called for one last push to secure the victory.

"Everybody knows the disappointment he feels for not being involved but for a guy like that, who has such a presence around the squad, for him to really be rallying around the team, it's a huge motivation for us to go out and do the job for him as well."

Bowe was full of admiration for O'Driscoll's positive demeanour around the squad and insisted the Irish veteran has not allowed his personal disappointment to impact negatively on preparations in any way.

"He's 100pc behind the team. It would be very easy for him to go off tour now and go off on the lash or whatever but he wants us to win for the Lions more than anything," he said.

"He'll be bitterly disappointed he's not involved but, at the end of the day, we need to win the series."

Bowe was also generous in his praise for the input of Paul O'Connell and Sam Warburton around the squad this week.

"That those guys are still here shows how much this means to them and that is hugely motivating for those of us playing.

"We want to do it for the Lions, we want to do it for ourselves. But we also want to do it for those guys who have contributed so much to the Lions and to rugby," Bowe added.

Bowe said every one of the tourists was keenly aware of the significance of the match – "it's amazing just to be involved in such a historic match" – and everyone was conscious of the barren spell without a series win since 1997 but insisted the players will respond in a positive way.

"It's a bit of pressure for us after going one-up in the series. But we have one game left, the last game of the season and to win would be to go down in history," he said. "The players are going out there thinking it doesn't have to be the prettiest match; we can win by 20 points or by one point, it doesn't matter.

"Everybody will be giving everything. We know exactly what we need to do and we want to play some rugby. But more importantly we want to win and that's what is going to be driving us."

Irish Independent

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