Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Lions keeps the life in Brian

Brian O'Driscoll's experience will be invaluable for the Lions in their Test series against Australia

Brian O'Driscoll feels being on this year's British and Irish Lions tour is helping to keep him young.

The 34-year-old Ireland centre, who has been involved in three previous Lions tours, was the oldest member of the squad in Australia until ex-Wales winger Shane Williams, 36, was called up ahead of Tuesday's match against the Brumbies.

And regarding his younger colleagues within the 2013 party, O'Driscoll told the Radio Times: "I have 12 years and more on some of these guys. Stuart Hogg is the youngest guy in the squad at 20. I'm 34, so I've got 14 years on him. That's a frightening thought - 12 years ago he was in short pants! It keeps me young, though. I go into training every day and the level of conversation definitely keeps me young."

At the same time, there is a significant effect an elder statesman like O'Driscoll can have upon the new generation in terms of aiding their maturing process, and the Dubliner is very much keeping in mind that he is a thoroughly seasoned campaigner mixing with plenty of players for whom the Lions environment is entirely new.

"There are guys on a completely different level to you, in their early 20s and on a massive learning curve," he said.

"I'm far from knowing it all, but I've seen a lot of things now in my professional career."

Of course, beyond the range of ages, the key way in which Lions tours bring together different types of player is with regard to nationalities, as men accustomed to taking each other on in international competition become team-mates.

Leinster man O'Driscoll said: "The Lions is so unique; you kick lumps out of all these guys year on year, and they're massive adversaries. Then all of a sudden they become your team-mates.

"You're forced to bond in a six or seven-week period, and play for one another against one of the three best teams in the world. You have preconceived notions about what sort of guys particular individuals are. You see the way they carry on on the pitch, and you might think they're not your type of people.

"But then they can completely surprise you; you can room with someone for two or three days and they become your best friend."

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