Brian O’Driscoll to be rested for Lions game against Barbarians
The most experienced member of the tour party, the talismanic Brian O'Driscoll, will not play on Saturday as he and Lions teammates who were involved in the English and Celtic championships last weekend are being rested before the main campaign in Australia.
The Lions arrived yesterday afternoon and manager Andy Irvine was quick to point out the entire 37-man squad were on the plane, ending fears those players who took part in the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect PRO12 finals last Saturday would fly straight to Perth.
"We have got to be sensible going on a long tour like this and we will rest those players who played in the Aviva and Rabo finals on Saturday," said Irvine. "This will account for around 10 to 14 players not being in the frame for the Barbarians game."
Ireland and former Lions captain O'Driscoll, taking part in his fourth tour, turned out for Leinster in the Celtic final against Ulster, and will be missed by the Hong Kong fans. Also out of action will be England's powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi and England backrower Tom Croft, who both turned out for Leicester in the English Premiership final against Northampton Saints.
Sam Warburton is expected to lead the Lions out on in their first game of the tour - a match which Irvine said would set the tone for a campaign to win their first series since 1997.
"The first game on any tour is always important and winning will give us the momentum," Irvine said. "The last thing we want to do is to come a cropper against the Barbarians. We will be really up for it.
"By all accounts the Barbarians had a poor first half and didn't perform well against England last Saturday. But we won't be reading too much into that result for we know they will be fired up against us."
The entire Lions outfit will train for the first time at Aberdeen Sports Ground today, and the next few days will give head coach Warren Gatland a true feel for his side.
"We only got together 36 hours before leaving for Hong Kong and we have yet to train as a full squad, simply because 14 players were involved in the season-ending finals.
"Fortunately, we had players in every position from the remaining 23 players and we were able to train with them. The first team will be picked from this lot," Irvine said.