Lawrence Dallaglio believes the mental trauma Brian O’ Driscoll suffered on his 2005 nightmare Lions tour will lead to Paul O’Connell captaining this year’s South African assault.
O’Driscoll’s Test captaincy lasted less than one minute after All Blacks Kevin Mealamu and Tana Umaga controversially ended the Leinsterman’s tour with a dubious ‘spear’ tackle. O’Driscoll suffered a dislocated shoulder in the incident, ruling him out of the remaining Tests in New Zealand.
The Ireland captain is one of the leading contenders for the job again this time but his international team-mate O’Connell is staking a claim for the Lions captaincy.
O’Connell has been in terrific form this season and has led an imperious Munster from the front all year. With the squad due to be named on April 21, World Cup winner, Dallaglio believes that a forward should lead the Lions to slaughter the Springboks.
“Brian O’Driscoll is a former captain of the Lions but while he would do a wonderful job of captaining this tour, I felt he had quite a traumatic experience in New Zealand so it might be better for him to concentrate on being the absolute world-class center that he is,” Dallaglio told the Daily Telegraph.
“If you look back at history, the two Lions tours that have been won in South Africa have been captained by second rows – Willie John McBride in 1974 and Martin Johnson in 1997 – so history would point towards O’Connell. But it is a tough call either way.”
Dallaglio, who toured with the Lions in 1997, 2001 and 2005, is expecting a few shock inclusions in Ian McGeechan's panel.
“There may well be a few surprises,” he said. “What people have to understand is that the Lions is not just about picking the best players, it is about picking the best tourists, it’s about picking people who have the right characteristics. This is not a holiday they are going on.
“Just because you are not playing international rugby doesn’t mean the Lions selectors will ignore you, as was the case with Will Greenwood in 1997.
Dallaglio, suggesting the likes of Danny Cipriani, Jonny Wilkinson and Ben Foden, said: “There might be a couple of players who we have yet to see play international rugby who might get a chance."