Rugby

Sean O'Brien Is Having A Lions Tour For The Ages

Sean O'Brien Is Having A Lions Tour For The Ages

In seven days time, the Lions will have a chance to do what no one considered possible and win this series against the All Blacks. If the implausible happens, history will remember the majestic performances of Conor Murray at scrum half, the ferocity of Maro Itoje, but mostly, we hope, it will honour everything Sean O'Brien has done this past month Down Under. Because this has been Sean O'Brien's tour.

When Sam Warburton was named Tour captain in May, it was difficult to know where O'Brien fit into Gatland's Test team - probably a bench sub. But O'Brien has been such a force of nature this tour, he has taken the #7 jersey off of Warburton and become something akin to the Lions spiritual leader.

Lions lore is decorated with the performances of steely forwards, and after today's win, O'Brien can now rightfully claim his place beside Willie John McBride and Martin Johnson.

O'Brien was everywhere again today in playing in his fourth Lions test match. New Zealand media showered him with praise, calling him 'one of the Lions best this series' and calling it a draw in his breakdown battle with the imperious Sam Cane. Perhaps because O'Brien rarely makes those patented lungbusting linebreaks anymore, his contribution to the game isn't as obvious. With his body fully contributing and a long history of injury hopefully in the rear view mirror, O'Brien has been central to everything the Lions have achieved this Tour.

Who was there to finish off arguably the greatest try in Lions history last Saturday? Sean O'Brien.

Who was there today when the Lions needed to win the breakdown and slow the Kiwi try-scoring machine? Sean O'Brien.

There was a collective dawning during the match from fans in both hemispheres that O'Brien is one of the best and unappreciated players on the planet.

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And in typical O'Brien fashion, he met Graham 'Simmo' Simmons's hyperbole with the perfect response.

O'Brien has had a month to remember. He has given nearly all of himself. To steal this Test series, the Lions will need 80 more bruising minutes from their talisman.

Donny Mahoney

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