Ireland and Lions back row forward Sean O’Brien recently came out with some eyebrow-raising comments about the summer’s tour in New Zealand.
While most observers saw the drawn Test series as a huge achievement for the Lions, O’Brien cut a frustrated figure and felt that not only should the tourists have claimed the series win, but they should have whitewashed the All Blacks.
The Tullow Tank was clearly still annoyed with how the tour went when reflecting on the series last week:
“Looking back, I could be completely wrong, but if we had a little more structure during the weeks, more of an attack game-plan driven way earlier in the tour, we could have won 3-0.
“We did a triple (training) day on the Thursday before the first Test. You can’t do that. If you’re playing a game with Tullow, we wouldn’t do that.
“Johnny (Sexton) and Faz (Farrell) were the ones running our attack shape. The coaches have a lot to answer for in terms of our attack rather than Johnny and Faz trying to drive it.
Writing in his Irish Times column, former Leinster and Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy praised O’Brien for speaking up, and added that he believes more will come out from the camp supporting the Carlowman’s words.
Sean and others like him looked into the whites of their eyes and recognised a wounded animal. He saw the opportunity to win the series “3-0” and who are we to question a man climbing from the trenches? He was out there, along with Maro Itoje, driving the knife in.
Seanie feels the Lions were short-changed by those tasked with moulding their game plan. So much so, the officer class felt compelled to take over tactical manoeuvres.
D’Arcy, who went on two Lions tours in 2005 and 2009 put himself in O’Brien’s position and can understand the frustration.
I think more context supporting O’Brien’s comments will arrive in due course. But if a player genuinely feels they could have been better prepared surely there’s an onus on him to say so. I can picture myself in Seanie’s skin. ‘We just drew a Test series in New Zealand and I was tired going into two Test matches because of a flawed training load.
That needed to come out.
D’Arcy added that there were a number of ‘what ifs’ left after the drawn series, suggesting that had Eddie Jones or Joe Schmidt been at the helm, then the result could have easily been a lot different.
It would seem that the fall-out from the Lions tour of New Zealand may still continue for some time yet.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
Hat-tip: Irish Times