O'Connell talks of 'big buzz' among Lions
Tuesday 26 May 2009
Paul O'Connell has revealed that there is a "big buzz" in the British and Irish Lions camp ahead of their 10-match tour of South Africa.
The Lions captain touched down in Johannesburg yesterday with the rest of his team, who kick off their trip with a match against a Royal XV in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Led by Ian McGeechan, the tourists will also play three Test matches against the world champions in June and July and Irishman O'Connell believes the team has begun to gel nicely.
"I think there's a big buzz," he said. "We had a great week last week. Everyone's out on the pitch at the same time, everyone's in the gym at the same time, everyone's in and around the training ground at the same time.
"I think there's a lot of good friendships being made, a lot of characters emerging already and that's going to be a big thing for us.
"I said a week ago that the talent is there in the group, the coaching is there in the group and now it's up to us to perform as a team."
The 29-year-old was part of the last Lions squad that went on tour four years ago, a trip to New Zealand when they were hammered 3-0, and he is now keen to erase those memories.
He continued: "I think it's important that when the players wear the jersey on this tour, they live up to the tradition and the history of the jersey.
"I think when you look back at some of the players that have won the British and Irish Lions jersey down the years, there were great players.
"Maybe in 2005 we didn't live up to that. A lot of things went against us on the tour and at the same time I don't think we did the tradition proud. I think for me personally, looking back at 2005 is a big motivation."
O'Connell also revealed that he was not the only one keen on putting to bed what happened in 2005, adding: "I know for a few other guys that were on the tour, it's the same thing. Living up to the tradition of the jersey is a big thing for us.
"A lot of us when we play for our clubs give everything playing for Munster or Ireland. I think the same thing applies when we play for the British and Irish Lions."
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