Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Brian O'Driscoll in Melbourne

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Michael Hooper of the Wallabies is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Hooper of the Wallabies is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll. Photo / Getty Images

There is no surprise the Lions clarion call is coming from Brian O'Driscoll, a four time tourist on his final expedition in search of an elusive series win.

He began his trips in the famous red jersey in 2001 when the Lions fell at the last two hurdles after winning the opening test. He literally suffered further pain as captain in New Zealand in 2005 then South Africa in 2009.

Now he brings his massive experience to Australia as a 33-year-old, where he looks in very strong shape to pursue his Holy Grail dream tomorrow in Melbourne.

O'Driscoll is a little uneasy when his mind churns though his last three tours and he visualises all the scenarios.

"He is desperate to communicate this to the players and tell them don't leave this opportunity behind because it can quickly go by," coach Warren Gatland said.

A sentiment has begun to bud that the Lions need to get the job done this week, that a decider in Sydney might be a test too far.

If that happens, the Lions' plans for several days downtime in Noosa might be rejigged with a little extra training thrown in.

Many in the squad will not get a repeat Lions chance in New Zealand in 2017.

Planning for this trip has been massive. It started two years ago. They were fortunate that a number of the staff were on the last trip to South Africa and that experience had been a huge help in planning for this visit.

"It is not like a normal touring side. It is like a machine which travels around with the media, commercial responsibilities, security, staff and the board - we are moving a lot of people and a lot of equipment around as well," said Gatland.

He and the players would trade any style for a victory tomorrow and a series triumph.

The Lions have made five changes to the group which won the first test 23-21 in Brisbane. Fit again wing Tommy Bowe, halfback Ben Youngs, blindsider Dan Lydiate, lock Geoff Parling and prop Mako Vunipola come in as tactical picks and for some injured men.

They had taken a risk with no lock cover but there were always selection risks and Lydiate would switch if necessary.

Gatland said his squad was full of quality but it was a demanding task to blend them into the most potent group.

"There is size and skill and great athletes but to put a squad together in such a short period and play away from home against one of the top three countries in the world is a tough ask," he said.

He was certain world rugby wanted the Lions concept to continue and be successful. That judgment would given if there was a close tough test series and that looked like occurring.

"We are all aware of the positive consequences of the Lions as a concept and the interest has been massive, said Gatland. "It is like a World Cup and good for the future of the game."

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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