Belfast Telegraph

Ronan O'Gara fears Lions lack X-factor and 'an O'Driscoll'

By Ruaihidri O'Connor

Ronan O'Gara is worried that the Lions have no players with the 'X-factor' to hurt the All Blacks as head coach Warren Gatland was forced to delay naming his side to face the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua this weekend until early this morning.

All three Ulster Lions, Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Jared Payne, look set to miss out on selection for the first Test next weekend. But it is the absence of a Brian O'Driscoll type star man that most concerns Irish legend and Racing 92 assistant coach O'Gara.

"They're missing a Brian O'Driscoll, without a shadow of a doubt. Jonathan Davies is a really, really good player but he can't score tries like O'Driscoll could," O'Gara said.

"The most exciting back looks like Jonathan Joseph to me. Will he play? I don't think so."

With the exciting game-breaker Stuart Hogg now ruled out of contention, O'Gara feels an Irishman could make a difference if called up to tour.

"I would put Keith Earls before Simon Zebo. What the Irish wings are good at, and the Lions haven't been as good at, is the high ball.

"Conor Murray kicked the ball 17 times against the Crusaders. That's 17 contestables, and Ireland's wings are good at that part of the game."

O'Gara does not feel that Jonathan Sexton should start ahead of Owen Farrell at out-half, but does see the merits in finishing the first Test with both players working in tandem as a creative force. "I really like the idea of having two ball-carriers," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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