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  1. #1

    PO'C thoughts on the 2013 Lions tour

    O’Connell: Winning creates the legends

    By Simon Lewis
    Thursday, August 23, 2012
    With a Grand Slam and two Heineken Cup successes on his resumé, Paul O’Connell is pretty much in the "been there, done that", category of rugby players.
    The Munster lock even has a British & Lions captaincy on the list, from the tour to South Africa last time out in 2009. Yet even that would be surpassed by experiencing a Test series victory over Australia next summer.

    Being a Lion is one thing, however winning as a Lion is, O’Connell believes, what turns great players into rugby legends this side of the equator.

    "I think the guys who have won Lions tours and World Cups are the players who have set themselves apart from everyone else in the northern hemisphere," O’Connell said as he looked forward to the new season, which begins in earnest on September 1 and could end with a place on the 2013 Lions tour.

    "For me, when I think of that 1997 team that went to South Africa, they’re the real legends. I suppose the English team that won the World Cup, they’re the players that have set themselves apart."

    That 1997 series defeat of the world champion Springboks by Martin Johnson’s Lions represents the last time the tourists have returned north with a victory and O’Connell has experienced at first hand both the nightmare scenario of a whitewash by New Zealand in 2005 and the pulsating near-miss 2-1 defeat to the Boks four years ago.

    Winning a series, he believes, is becoming increasingly difficult for the Lions but there is still reason for optimism that they can turn over the Wallabies next summer.

    "I think so. I’ve been on two and they’re incredibly hard to win and becoming harder and harder to win. I think to come together in the professional era and become a team, defensively, set-piece-wise and in terms of how you want to attack — to become a team, there’s so much planning that goes into that now. It’s not like it was 20 or 30 years ago, now with all that to organise, to face a southern hemisphere superpower is a very difficult thing to do.

    "But with astute management, like the Lions had in 2009 with Ian McGeechan and Warren Gatland, it can be done. And with talented players like were there in 2009, and you look at a lot of the players around now in the home nations, I think the capability to come together as a team in a short time is there.

    "It’s a difficult task and I think every Lions team will be underdogs now for the rest of time but I think certainly the Lions can go down there and win. It will be very difficult but I think they can go down there and win."

    A third Lions tour would be a fitting reward for the 2009 captain but 32-year-old O’Connell, who hinted strongly this week that he is ready to stand down as the Munster skipper after six years at the helm, is not taking anything for granted in the face of competition at second row from the likes of Scotland’s Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton, England’s Courtney Lawes and Welshmen Alun Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris.

    "I’d love to go but you look at the quality of second rows around now, it’s going to be very tough to go," O’Connell said. "It probably adds to the anticipation (for the coming season) but I don’t think it adds to how you train. I think you train hard every pre-season, no matter what. But, yes, it will be at the back of everybody’s minds but that’s where you have to keep it.

    "You have to just perform the best you can for your team and if you do, that individual honours will come from that, be that national selection or selection for the Lions."

    O’Connell’s first priority, however is to return to the Munster team having recovered from the knee injury he suffered against France last February.

    "I could play this weekend if I was allowed but I think that they just want me to get a bit more running under my belt. I’ve been back since week one, seven or eight weeks ago, but I’m only running for about two.

    "My knee is right, now but I’m probably not fit to play now. I rather come back sooner rather than later and try and get a bit of fitness with games as well, so hopefully sooner rather than later."


    Irish Examiner
    4 Feb 2011 - Gilmore on the General Election

    "Frankfurts way or Labours way."

    28 Feb 2012 - Gilmore on a yes vote for the fiscal treaty

    "A vote for economic stability and a vote for economic recovery."

  2. #2
    Munster Berserker offshorerules's Avatar
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    Still got to be a certainty for the tour if he stays fit but will he be an automatic test starter? Some good 2nd rows about at the moment but I thinh he edges it.
    "They’re the benchmark that everyone else has to raise their game to meet." Alan Quinlan on Leinster

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by offshorerules View Post
    Still got to be a certainty for the tour if he stays fit but will he be an automatic test starter? Some good 2nd rows about at the moment but I thinh he edges it.
    Sure is some decent competition. Wyn Jones and Gray would be the pick of the bunch. Lawes will go too i'd say. Hell even Ryan will be battling for a call up if he has a good season.

  4. #4
    Leader of the Red Hordes LeakyBoots's Avatar
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    Dunno, I thought his mobility and carrying diminished last season, so much so you'd be wishing he wasn't out in the middle of the park taking on ball. Will be interesting to see how he goes after this injury, hope the years aren't catching up on him. Keep it tight and make the hard yards for us. Still rules the lineout.
    Marty in the Morning

  5. #5
    He's got nothing to prove to anyone, and would be far better off taking next summer off.

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  7. #6
    Admiral of the Fleet Valencia's Avatar
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    **** the Lions, we'll get back to this stuff later, we've a season to get through first
    Con Artist

  8. #7
    Admiral of the Fleet
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    Must admit to being dismayed when i read that our players are so fired up by the upcoming lions tour. No one can doubt for a 1sec PO'C's commitment to the Irish team and PO'C himself played no part in the latest disgraces i.e twickers & 60-0 debacle in NZ but surely the priority for anyone associated with the Irish INTL team is to regain respect for that team not least from their own fans. I don't think it's an exageration to say that the Irish team is a bit of a joke these days.
    Last edited by Mcork; 23rd-August-2012 at 12:10.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

  9. #8
    In the Departure Lounge Old Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Point View Post
    He's got nothing to prove to anyone, and would be far better off taking next summer off.
    You may well be right, however I suspect that's not the way that any professional rugby player sees it.

    Plus there is the small matter of a paycheque of €40,000 or so for a Lions player, plus, presumably, a load of spin-off endorsement opportunities. That's all hard to say no to, particularly if one's nest egg has been significantly affected by the property crash.

  10. #9
    Jesus, has there ever been a more over-hyped second row than Gray? As for the idea that Hamilton was better than Evans last 6N, it's farcical.
    The future is bliiiiiinnnnkkkk, the future is Axel.

    "All scrums are sexy." - Nuke.

  11. #10
    Leader of the Red Hordes Stanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcork View Post
    Must admit to being dismayed when i read that our players are so fired up by the upcoming lions tour. No one can doubt for a 1sec PO'C's commitment to the Irish team and PO'C himself played no part in the latest disgraces i.e twickers & 60-0 debacle in NZ but surely the priority for anyone associated with the Irish INTL team is to regain respect for that team not least from their own fans. I don't think it's an exageration to say that the Irish team is a bit of a joke these days.


    Cannot agree, we were within a minute or two of beating Wales, but for that peno and Welsh player should have been on a yellow, lost our TH in Twickers which opened the flood gates - no replacement, have known for 2/3 years, any draw in Paris is to be celebrated.

    NZ was a bridge too far, one unlucky loss but they always murder us down there as in other games.

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