Brian O’Driscoll was overjoyed by the way in the British & Irish Lions refused to ease off in the closing stages of Wednesday’s 74-10 mauling of The Golden Lions in Johannesburg.
The Lions were 39-10 up at the interval, after outscoring their hosts by five tries to one, but even though they had the game won, the tourists’ intensity levels never wavered in the second period, as evidence by the ferocious way in which they defended their own line when The Golden Lions drove forward in search of a consolation score.
It was that professionalism and that fighting spirit which most impressed stand-in skipper O’Driscoll on what was a tremendous evening for Ian McGeechan’s troops.
"I think that the most pleasing aspect of the game was not conceding in the second half. We could have eased off and let them in for a couple of scores but we were adamant at half time that we were going to keep them scoreless. That pride of keeping them off your whitewash is a big thing,” the Ireland centre told reporters after the game.
"We’ve set the bar at a certain level and the great thing is that the guys on Saturday have to raise it to another level because we’re all playing for Test places.
"Nobody but Paulie [O’Connell, Lions captain] is guaranteed a start so we all have to continue to better each performance.”
Indeed, in spite of the exhilarating nature of the performance, which is sure to have somewhat dented the hitherto seemingly impenetrable confidence of South Africa, O’Driscoll is remaining grounded, and insists his colleagues will do likewise.
”We played very well. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. It was a good performance and we’ll enjoy that but we’ll get our heads back down tomorrow and starting working hard again on ironing out the few creases that we still have,” the Leinster midfield maestro reasoned.
”There are a huge amount of positives to take out of the performance.
”To score 70-odd points against a Super 14 team, well, I suppose somebody’s going to take notice. But we’ll just keep working away. We’re far from the finished article but hopefully the more we train together, the more we play together, the more cohesive we’ll get.”
Meanwhile, O’Driscoll is backing his provincial and international team-mate, Gordon D’Arcy, who has been added to the squad because of a number of injury concerns in midfield, to hit the ground running when he teams up with the squad later this week.
D’Arcy’s call-up comes on the back of his impressive recent form, having finally managed to overcome the broken arm he sustained in February of last year.
”He’s showed a huge amount of patience of coming back from injury and when he did get his chance in this year’s 6 Nations he took it,” O’Driscoll said, alluding to his midfield partner’s try against France in the second round of The Championship.
”He’s playing very well now and he’ll be a good addition to the squad. He’ll know a lot of the boys so I’m sure he’ll fit right in. He’s the sort of player who picks things up pretty quickly and that should work in his favor.”