British and Irish Lions 2013: Adam Ashley-Cooper lauds rival Brian O'Driscoll ahead of first Test

Despite his advancing years the Irishman remains one of the best says Australia

Adam Ashley-Cooper insists Brian O'Driscoll remains as dangerous as ever as the rivals prepare to meet for the first time in Saturday's opening Test between Australia and the British and Irish Lions.

Ashley-Cooper is one of only two certainties for inclusion in the Wallaby backline - scrum-half Will Genia is the second - with the nomadic Waratah having finally established himself in the number 13 jersey.

While he has faced Ireland three times, he played on the left wing and at full-back, denying him the chance to lock horns with an opponent he views as a "soldier" of Test rugby.

O'Driscoll announced himself to the Australian public with his stunning solo try in the opening Test of the 2001 Lions tour and he has been in terrific form since returning Down Under with the class of 2013.

"I disagree that he's not the explosive centre of 12 years ago. He has the experience and ability to keep turning up," Ashley-Cooper said.

"He's a soldier and that's why he's one of the best centres in the world. You can't presume anything with him.

"He's an absolute freak and I'm looking forward to lining up against him for the first time."

The three-quarter duel is being viewed as a battle between the Lions' bigger and more powerful ball runners against the smaller but more elusive Wallabies.

Ashley-Cooper protests at the comparison in size, but expects the tourists to persevere with the bulldozing gameplan that has produced five victories against provincial opposition.

"We're not that small! They do have a big backline though," he said.

"I haven't seen a northern hemisphere side be as expansive as these Lions have been for a while. Their ability to spread the ball has been quite impressive.

"They've come out with a very physical and confrontational approach to the start of the game and then have that ability to throw the ball wide.

"From a backs perspective defending that is going to be tough because first you have to consider their physicality and great ball running forwards, but then have to defend the width they're capable of achieving.

"They've been consistent in the way they approach each game, relying on their big forwards to get over the gain line and create the punch for them, before using the ball out wide.

"George North and Alex Cuthbert - it would be silly not to get the ball to those guys."

Hard running wing Digby Ioane has declared himself fit for the first Test in Brisbane after completing his recovery from a knee injury.

The Wallabies name their team in the early hours of Thursday morning.

PA

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'