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  Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Missed opportunities
Brian O'Driscoll
BBC Sport Online columnist Brian O'Driscoll says that the Test series could have gone either way, but Australia proved to be world champion class.

It was not to be. So near yet so far.

As you can imagine the changing room afterwards was a little bit like a morgue.

Manager Donal Lenihan was very emotional and thanked the players for he knew we had the ability to beat Australia.

He was like ourselves. We knew we let it go.

It did not take long before realisation sunk in that we had lost a Test series mainly through missed opportunities.

O'Discoll and that high tackle by Herbert
It is very difficult to say why we lost. But really there was no one thing that lost us the third Test.

We had a couple of passages of play towards the end that could have snatched victory for us.

If I had held on to a pass that Jonny Wilkinson threw out I might have scored, but I just took my eye off the ball.

However, you are not going to know if that would have won us the game.

It is all credit to Australia, they came back well after we scored, kicked their points when they needed them. They just had that little bit more in the end.

They showed their class and proved that they are worthy of their world champion status.

Tremendous atmosphere

But in the end the series itself was very evenly matched. We had the best of the first Test, they came back well in the second, and the third was pretty even.

Possibly they just had that little bit extra at the end of the third Test. The scoreline probably reflects that.

There was a tremendous atmosphere inside Stadium Australia. It was a great place to play, and despite some wonderful support, we did not get the right result.

I had a quick look at a replay of Daniel Herbert's high tackle. Well, there was nothing in it really. It probably looked worse than it was.


I found it a marvellous and wonderful experience and one that I will look back on with relish in the future
Brian O'Driscoll

It was just an instinctive reaction, and there was certainly no malice.

On reflection and amid the disappointment of losing, I can take away a lot of memorable moments from the tour.

I have learned a lot about rugby, made numerous very good friends and above all, learned other skills off different players from different countries.

I found it a marvellous and wonderful experience and one that I will look back on with relish in the future.

The best moment of the tour was the feeling after we had won the first Test. Hearing that final whistle and knowing that we had just beaten the world champions was just sensational.

Complete article

As I said before I have made some wonderful new friends with some of the players. But others have really impressed me on the field of play.

It was fantastic playing with Jason Robinson. He is without doubt one of the best finishers in the game.

It was also a delight to play alongside Jonny Wilkinson - he is a centre's dream.

Jonny's distribution is brilliant; in fact he is the complete article with his kicking and his running and tackling. I found it an honour to play alongside him.

Jonny Wilkinson
Dejected Wilkinson is the complete article
It was also great to play beside my mate Rob Henderson in the Tests. I suppose it is a tremendous boost for Irish rugby that two centres made the Lions Test side.

Obviously when the players return home they will reflect on just what happened on tour. You do get to know people very well on a seven-week trip.

There is one thing, I will know a thing or two about the psyche about the others players when we come face to face in the Six Nations.

Hopefully I will now be able to work out their game plan and little idiosyncrasies.

As for me now, I am off on a three-week trip up the coast of Australia.

I am having a complete break from everything and heading away with a couple of mates and my girlfriend.

I aim to really chill out. It has been a tough tour, a very demanding one and I want to make sure I do not burn out.

I aim to thoroughly enjoy my break, because I will have, like the other players, another big season ahead. You cannot forget about that.

No doubt I will reflect on what might have been with my time with the Lions.


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See also:

07 Jul 01 | Player views
30 Jun 01 | Player views
23 Jun 01 | Player views
17 Jun 01 | Lions Down Under
11 Jun 01 | Lions Down Under
06 Jun 01 | Lions Down Under
27 Apr 01 | Lions Down Under
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