x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Captain keen to erase memory of 2005

The British and Irish Lions' disastrous tour of New Zealand in 2005 will serve as a huge source of motivation for Paul O'Connell, the captain of the 2009 vintage.

The British and Irish Lions' disastrous tour of New Zealand in 2005 will serve as a huge source of motivation for Paul O'Connell, the captain of the 2009 vintage. Under the guidance of Sir Clive Woodward, the Lions were whitewashed 3-0 by a Dan Carter-inspired All Blacks side. The defeat clearly still rankles with O'Connell who played every minute of all three Tests.

"A lot of things went against us on the tour and at the same time I don't think we did the tradition proud," said the hulking Munster lock. "I think for me personally, looking back at 2005 is a big motivation. "I think it's important that when the players wear the jersey on this tour, they live up to the tradition and the history of the jersey. "I think when you look back at some of the players that have won the British and Irish Lions jersey down the years, there were great players. Maybe in 2005 we didn't live up to that."

O'Connell also revealed that he was not the only one keen on putting to bed what happened in 2005, adding: "I know for a few other guys that were on the tour, it's the same thing. "Living up to the tradition of the jersey is a big thing for us. "A lot of us when we play for our clubs give everything playing for Munster or Ireland. "I think the same thing applies when we play for the British and Irish Lions."

The Lions touched down in Johannesburg yesterday and kick-off their trip with a match against a Royal XV in Rustenburg on Saturday. Given the four withdrawals so far McGeechan would have been a relieved man yesterday after seeing his entire squad go through their paces trouble-free. Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, who suffered a shoulder injury scare during Leinster's Heineken Cup final victory over Leicester in Edinburgh three days ago, was among those who took a full part in training. He showed no ill effects from the injury as McGeechan continued the build-up for Saturday's first game.

The Lions assistant coach, Wales boss Warren Gatland, confirmed the feelgood factor among a squad seeking to emulate the 1997 Test series triumph against world champions South Africa. Gatland said: "I think we are lot further forward than we expected after the first week we had together in England. "The players have picked up the calls and things really quickly. "Playing against South Africa is always tough. We have got to be accurate against them for 80 minutes."

* With agencies