'Chicago counts for nothing for Lions' - O'Brien

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Lynn McConnell     09 May 2017     Getty Images

It was Ireland's first in in 29 Tests against the All Blacks and was reversed in Dublin two weeks later.

But that notion didn't wash with Irish flanker Sean O'Brien. Injury denied him the chance to play in Chicago but so far as he was concerned the result counted for nothing in terms of the Lions tour.
"We played exceptionally well that day in Chicago and obviously the All Blacks came back a good bit at us that day as well.

"That Irish win counts for nothing going over to tour New Zealand in a few weeks," he said.

"It's just about going out there and expressing ourselves as a group, as a Lions group, not on what's gone before."

O'Brien, who has had his own injury frustrations due to a hamstring injury but from which he was now recovering, said the Lions were aware of the injuries key players, captain Kieran Read, flanker Jerome Kaino and hooker Dane Coles had suffered but they weren't sure of how long they were likely to be out. They were presuming they would have some time to prove their fitness.

"But with the strength and depth the All Blacks have and the type of players and back rowers they have over there I'm sure they won't struggle in that department," he said.

If Read, Kaino and Liam Squire were out, there were players like Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and perhaps Brad Shields to come in and they were all 'unbelievable players', he said.

It was exciting to be making his second Lions tour and New Zealand was the pinnacle. He had been here for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the Ireland tour a year later.

"You definitely want to test yourself in that environment against the best team in the world.

"It's a massive challenge. What I've learned from the five Tests [he's played against the All Blacks] is that you have to have unbelievable discipline and you have go and play rugby and play against them because [if] you sit back against the All Blacks and [try to] soak up pressure, they'll kill you.

"So it's definitely to go out with an attack mindset and make sure we stay moment by moment for all the big games because one lapse in concentration with the quality they have, they are a very dangerous side."

O'Brien said in Australia four years ago the Lions had their combinations right, were a strong team and hit the ground running when they got to Australia which had been a big part of their success. They had gelled quickly.

And that was what they were attempting to do through their pre-tour camps.

"We're preparing well, we need a tough schedule to prepare for the Tests and we know we're going to get that when we get over there so we have to make sure we tick all the boxes and make sure we're ready to rock come those Tests," he said.

O'Brien said the Lions had to take some confidence the way sides had been playing both in club rugby and in the Six Nations.

"We'll be looking to take a lot of positives out of what's happened here in the Champions Cup and the leagues," he said.