O'Driscoll to captain British and Irish Lions against Western Force
The Team Line Out in Hong Kong
Jun 03, 2013
Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll has been chosen to lead the British and Irish Lions against Western Force on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old, on his fourth tour, leads the Lions for a sixth time in Perth, after four matches in New Zealand and one in South Africa.
But Ireland full-back Rob Kearney will miss both Wednesday's match and Saturday's third game against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane after feeling a tightness in his hamstring at Leinsters Pro 12 final against Ulster last week.
"We will have to see how he responds and potentially if it doesn't heal as quickly as we might like, then we will have to put some plans in place [for a replacement]," said head coach Warren Gatland.
"But we want to give him a bit of time. He had a scan in Hong Kong and the medics have put a plan in place for the next week or so.
"We feel like we have enough cover at the moment with Leigh Halfpenny and Stuart Hogg, and Sean Maitland has also played at full-back in the past.
"We just have to see how he progresses, and whether he hits some markers within a certain time-frame."
Captain Sam Warburton, who has suffered with a knee injury, will also miss out on Wednesday's match, but Gatland is hopeful he could be fit to join the Lions to take on the Queensland Reds on Saturday.
"Sam has been doing some of his own training but he had to stay off his knee for five days before he is ready for full contact," Gatland explained.
"Hopefully he will train with the other players not in this 23 over the next couple of days and put himself in contention for Saturday."
O’Driscoll, the only survivor from the 2001 tour of Australia, when he made his debut at full-back against Western Australia, will form a powerhouse midfield partnership with English centre Manu Tuilagi, who is one of eight players making their first Lions appearance.
“It is very exciting,” said O’Driscoll. “I haven't lost any of the buzz for the feeling of being involved with the British and Irish Lions. It is a very, very special place to be. Now that we've finally arrived in Australia, the tour kind of feels it has truly begun.
“We were pleased with how we started, but we've got to continue building, working hard at training and when we get to games, trying to build a bit of a ruthlessness about our mentality and our performance.”
We picked a team for Saturday which looked good on paper and this team looks strong as well,” Gatland added. “You just want to continue with that momentum and those players who start have the opportunity to build on last Saturday. There's a hell of a lot of competition in the squad and, as coaches, we're really excited by this side as well.”
LIONS TEAM TO FACE WESTERN FORCE:
15 Leigh Halfpenny
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain)
12 Manu Tuilagi
11 George North
10 Jonny Sexton
9 Conor Murray
1 Cian Healy
1 Rory Best
3 Dan Cole
4 Alun-Wyn Jones
5 Ian Evans
6 Tom Croft
7 Sean O'Brien
8 Jamie Heaslip
16 Tom Youngs
17 Mako Vunipola
17 Matt Stevens
18 Geoff Parling
19 Toby Faletau
20 Ben Youngs
21 Owen Farrell
22 Sean Maitland