With Wednesday's Lions squad announcement looming, Brian O'Drsicoll has outlined why he believes Warren Gatland should select Garry Ringrose for this summer's tour of New Zealand.
Ringrose, considered BOD's heir apparent by many since emerging from Blackrock College as a formidable talent, has enjoyed a superb breakout season for Leinster and Ireland, but faces stiff competition in the centres from the likes of Wales’ Jonathan Davies, England duo Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly, Leinster and Ireland teammate Robbie Henshaw, and Scotland’s Alex Dunbar.
O'Driscoll, however, maintains that the 22-year-old should be considered for selection due in large part to his adaptability to various conditions and systems. Speaking to The Telegraph in the UK, O'Driscoll said:
He’s got to be close.
The thing about him is that he’s a player for all seasons.
He’s shown that, and I think that’s what differentiates him from other centres that look similar in the way they play the game, without naming names – I think it’s pretty obvious who I’m talking about.
I think Garry Ringrose is someone I’d like in the trenches as much as I’d like on the hard ground of Loftus Versfeld. No matter who the opposition or what the conditions are, He’s there for the fight. He’s got fight in him.
O'Driscoll himself toured with the Lions in 2001, aged just 21, scoring one of rugby's most iconic tries versus Australia in the process. Having spent plenty of time with Warren Gatland in recent weeks, the former Ireland captain isn't convinced the Lions boss will call Ringrose up ahead of the aforementioned contenders for the two centre slots, but again put forward the idea that the Leinster inside back would have a lot to offer during the New Zealand winter.
I just don’t know whether Warren Gatland is a big enough fan of him right now to select him, but he would be a really good addition to the Lions squad in my opinion.
In terms of playing within a structure or a gameplan of a team. He’s a very, very good team player.
We’ve got a phrase in Ireland – a ‘me feiner’, who is someone who only thinks about themselves. He is the antithesis of that.
He’ll impress when the going is fast and he’ll also be there when you need people to dig in.
Of course, O'Driscoll's choice of words here are very interesting and could be seen by many as a little dig at his old Ireland and Lions coach.
Back in 2013, Keith Wood spoke out vigorously against Gatland's dropping of O'Driscoll for the third and final Test of that year's Lions' tour. After Wood didn't back down on his criticism in the wake of The Lions winning that game 41-16, Gatland responded in an interview with Walesonline, using an interesting and memorable piece of Irish to have a go at the former Ireland captain.
With regard to Keith Wood, I think he's let himself down basically. That's for him to have to deal with.
I think some of the things he said were a bit... rather than respect that coaches makes decisions he's gone and made it a little bit more personal.
The Irish have a great saying - "he's a mé féiner". That probably sums him up.