Brian O'Driscoll: Shed your nationality to become a Lion

Former captain urges squad to buy into the right mentality

BY Simon Maguire 18:58 Wednesday 26 April 2017, 18:58 26 Apr 2017

Brian O'Driscoll of the Lions after scoring a try. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll has urged this summer's touring squad to forget about nationality when they board the plane for New Zealand in a few weeks time.

The former Leinster centre was picked on four tours between 2001-2013, captaining the side in 2005.

Speaking to the Lions official website, he said: "As soon as you shed your nationality and become a Lion, I think that lends itself better to a good atmosphere on and off the pitch.

"It happened very quickly on Tours two, three and four. On the first, probably a week or ten days in I found myself out for a cup of coffee with a group of lads.

"We'd gone out for a stroll and a coffee and half an hour, 40 minutes in I realised I was the only Irish guy there. So that's probably when it struck home for me.

"You have to embrace the Lions Tour. I would say get out of your comfort zone, don't just stick to the crew that you are comfortable with.

The Lions team in 2001. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"The strength of the squad is the togetherness and the bond that you build so the only way of doing that is to put yourself out there a little bit more.

"You need great togetherness down there. New Zealand, especially on a Lions Tour, can be a bit of a goldfish bowl so you've got to be a tight unit. You have to find yourself connecting with guys that you don't necessarily know that well.

"That happens when you're rooming with people from different countries. Immediately you've got another pal that's looking out for your best needs, making sure that you're wearing the right thing, that you're on time for meetings and so forth.

"So you have a ready-made buddy and they link you in with their friends and who they hang out with so it tends to happens relatively organically."

The Lions are due to receive an official welcome at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds before the matches begin on 3rd June.  

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