Brian O'Driscoll looks back at his first Lions tour

He also previewed the Ireland-France match

BY Simon Maguire 11:06 Friday 24 February 2017, 11:06 24 Feb 2017

Brian O'Driscoll of The Lion's on the charge. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Former Ireland and Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll spoke to The Pat Kenny show on Friday about life on tour with the Lions and he looked ahead to Ireland's Six Nations clash with France at the weekend. 

Reminiscing on his first Lions tour in Australia and the influence the English players had on him at the time, O'Driscoll said: "Yeah I think that was a really steep learning curve back in 2001. I was only a couple of years into professionalism, I didn't really understand what it meant. 

The 2001 Lions squad. Image: ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

"I think only when you tour and travel with players a few years ahead of you, you pick up tips and understandings of the way you should behave both on and off the pitch and what the expectations are as a professional - particularly to play with the guts of that world cup winning English team that went on two years later [to win]. We learned so much and brought it back to our provinces and to the national team. 

"I think you always need to go and steal other components of countries are doing to better effect you and bring them back and make yourself better as well." 

Looking ahead to the big game against France he said: "I think the French are going to throw a big set piece at us. I think they've picked a strong scrummaging unit. They changed their tight-head, Slimani has gone in there and I think Jack McGrath has been picked on that basis as maybe he's just a fractionally better scrummager.

"It's not my area of expertise. It's a coin toss between Cian Healy and Jack McGrath at the moment but the big news for everyone is that Johnny Sexton is back conducting things at 10.

"Paddy Jackson has done a terrific job over the course of the last year and all of the game time that he's got but for me, if Johnny Sexton is fit, he plays. 

"He's not just a facilitator to other people playing well - he pulls everything together and not only does he know his own role, he knows everyone else's as well too. So when Johnny's on form, we see the best of Ireland. He's the one guy I wouldn't fear not having a lot of game time under his belt. I think he's able to come in seamlessly. He's got a strong fitness level and he'll be able to come in and boss things immediately.

As for a prediction, the former Ireland captain added: "I think we'll probably get by by a score but it really depends on conditions as well. It looks as though storm Doris has ceased for the moment...if it's wet tomorrow I fancy us to win by one [score].  We have the smarts in our team and the gameplan to counter act a physically imposing French team that probably aren't quite as organised as they will be in a years time so I fancy Ireland by five."

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