O’Driscoll: ‘There are no ‘warm-up’ games’

Former British and Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll believes the strength in depth of rugby in New Zealand means the side will be up against it from the start.

O'Driscoll led the squad 12 years ago in New Zealand and admitted that gelling together a Test XV while also trying to avoid as many injuries as possible would prove to be a difficult task.

The Lions lost to the New Zealand Maori in midweek back in 2005 in their run of seven games before the first Test against the All Blacks, before going on to lose the series 3-0.

"Right across the game, even the provincial teams are stocked with skilful, powerful players. It just runs very deep, " O'Driscoll told The Telegraph. 

"That means that the Lions don't really get any 'warm-up' games.

"So it's incredibly hard to get the right balance between knitting together and evolving a Test team, and trying to protect your players. It's a double-edged sword."

O'Driscoll also revealed that he had spoken with young Leinster centre Garry Ringrose, who missed out on selection for the 41-man group selected by Warren Gatland before delivering an excellent performance in the Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont.

"I sent him a text when the squad was announced saying I knew he would be really disappointed but there was a long way to go yet. A lot can change in two months," O'Driscoll added.

"He is the man for all seasons. He's fast over the ground. He has all the attributes to be a brilliant centre. He backs it up both ways; enjoying defence almost as much as attack. 

"He's a player I would love to have alongside me if I was a 12."