O'Driscoll wants tours cut

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The Independent Online

Ireland's captain, Brian O'Driscoll, yesterday questioned the validity of European teams touring the southern hemisphere every year. O'Driscoll's team face Australia in Melbourne today, a week after losing 21-11 to New Zealand in Wellington and only 21 days after Munster, who provide most of the national team, won the Heineken Cup final against Toulouse.

"Common sense has to prevail a little bit," O'Driscoll said. "In the year of a World Cup there shouldn't be any summer tours. I don't think the game will suffer too much from that. You are going to find players that are playing in a 52-week season are going to struggle with injuries."

O'Driscoll said that he still relishes tackling the world's best sides. "I like the idea of getting to play against Australia and New Zealand as many times as I can," he said.

The Wallabies take the field today under a new coach, Robbie Deans, whose parting with the Crusaders has caused significant upset in New Zealand.

Ireland: R Kearney; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt; all Leinster), P Wallace, T Bowe (both Ulster); R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan (all Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, D Leamy, D Wallace (all Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: J Flannery, T Buckley, M O'Driscoll (all Munster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Wasps), G Murphy (Leicester), G Dempsey (Leinster).

Australia: C Shepherd (Force); P Hynes (Reds), S Mortlock (Brumbies; capt), B Barnes (Reds), L Tuqiri (Waratahs); M Giteau (Force), L Burgess; B Robinson (both Waratahs), S Moore (Reds), M Dunning (Waratahs), J Horwill (Reds), N Sharpe (Force), R Elsom (Waratahs), G Smith (Brumbies), W Palu (Waratahs). Replacements: A Freier, A Baxter, D Mumm, P Waugh (all Waratahs), S Cordingley (Brumbies), R Cross (Force), A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies).

Referee: C Berdos (France).