Rugby: O'Driscoll Victory is essential for Lions brand

Brian O'Driscoll. Photo / AP
Brian O'Driscoll. Photo / AP

Rugby great Brian O'Driscoll has warned his Lions teammates that a series victory in Australia is crucial for the Lions' future.

It has been 16 years since a Lions tour returned home victorious after near misses against Australia in 2001 and South Africa 2009 and a series whitewash in New Zealand in 2005.

While the Springboks prevailed 2-1 four years ago, it was an epic series that reached its high point with a titanic second test that proved there is plenty of mileage left in the Lions.

But O'Driscoll - who was also on those last three tours - insists they cannot afford to lose again when they face the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in June and July.

"It's really important to win this series," the Ireland centre said.

"We probably gained back a little bit of the belief in what the Lions was about in 2009 by creating such a great series, albeit we lost 2-1.

"They were keenly contested games and could have gone either way, which was important after coming off the back of a 3-0 loss to the All Blacks in 2005. From the franchise point of view we need to win on occasion and that occasion has reoccurred after 16 years. It's a long time to still be talking about 1997.

"We need to create new, fresh memories that people can talk about more recently than two years after the advent of professionalism. It's time to kick on to the next level."

O'Driscoll will be embarking on his fourth Lions tour and reflecting upon the experience of his first, he now appreciates the value of taking chances as they come.

"It was all new to me in 2001. I was delighted being on the tour and getting into the test team. I look back and realise what a massive missed opportunity that was," he said.

"We had them in the second test and we didn't finish them off. You subsequently look back having been on two other tours and realise how difficult it is to win a series.

"The great thing about another opportunity is that there are no boundaries to what you can achieve.

"I'm the eternal optimist and go down with the thought that we can absolutely win a series. We will work hard towards doing that and hopefully put ourselves in a position to do that." AAP

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