O'Driscoll calls for cool heads
Captain-elect Brian O'Driscoll is poised for his British and Irish Lions swansong on Saturday, but he has insisted: "You can't let the emotion take over."
The 34-year-old Ireland centre will end a fourth Lions tour of duty stretching back to 2001 hoping he can fill one missing entry in a career portfolio packed with trophy successes. Sydney beckons in five days' time and a series decider that will be the biggest rugby union game played in Australia since the 2003 World Cup final.
And O'Driscoll knows cool heads, accuracy and composure must be the key ingredients for a Lions team desperate to end a 16-year wait since Test series glory was last achieved. "You have to have a certain amount of emotion in all games, and in games where the stakes are as high as they are next weekend that has to come into play," said O'Driscoll.
"But you can't let the emotion take over. I think accuracy is vitally important. Both teams lacked accuracy last Saturday at times. There were some unforced errors from both sides, and to string phases together you have to be accurate.
"They have been two incredibly keenly-contested games. Both of them should probably have gone the other way that they did, and it now culminates with a winner-takes-all. We knew we were never going to get it easy against Australia, and it has been proved.
"Yes, there is disappointment and you have to have a little bit of a mourning period after any loss, but the spirits of the guys have been picked up. It is important to be able to feel the disappointment, because if you try to banish it immediately it will come back to you, and it still does at times throughout the day.
"You kind of think how scenarios could be different - having a series in the bag, rather than one still to go and fight for. But then after a couple of days you just have to have the ability to shelve it and focus on the target. One more 80 minutes this season is all that is asked of everyone in the squad - the 80 minutes of their lives."
O'Driscoll is set to make a ninth Lions Test match appearance, putting him level with current tour manager Andy Irvine and Syd Millar, and one ahead of players like Martin Johnson, Jim Telfer, JPR Williams and Jeremy Guscott.
"Particularly when you have lost a game, I imagine every place is up for scrutiny, at least, as to whether the person deserves to be in the jersey again," O'Driscoll added.
"I won't go chewing my nails off thinking about it, I will go with the flow like everyone else does. Hopefully, I will be included in that team. If I am not, I will deal with that if the situation arises. I am sure over the next 48 hours the coaches will meet and identify the team they feel they want to put out to hopefully win us this series."