Brian O’Driscoll knows more about the Lions than anyone else. Picked to tour in 2001 at just 22 years of age, O’Driscoll would be chosen for the following three tours in 2005, 2009 and 2013, becoming only the third man to appear in 4 Lions tours. Having so much experience of the touring party, O’Driscoll has singled out a Munster man that could add so much to the tour.
That man is Donnacha Ryan. Ryan is having arguably the season of his life for the province, whilst also becoming Joe Schmidt’s first choice lock for Ireland. Such is his growing importance to both camps, his reported switch to Racing 92 in the summer is being met with much criticism.
When asked about possible bolters for the Lions by ESPN, O’Driscoll responded;
Donnacha Ryan. I don’t think it’s really a year for bolters per se. But if you said Donnacha Ryan down in Munster, they’d say he’s already a shoo-in to be on the plane.
Every club or fan is biased towards their own at the minute and everyone at Saracens feels their whole side should be on the plane and likewise in Munster, Leinster and Wasps; we’re incredibly partisan in our opinions.
I don’t think there will be that many bolters and outside of Munster, I get the feeling not many would have Donnacha Ryan on the plane but he ticks all the relevant boxes for being a really good tourist: a great guy, someone who’s ready for the trenches.
While he might not be a Test player right now, he would do a phenomenal job against the other sides in New Zealand as you need someone who’s combative and ready for the fight and he would be an excellent tourist.
Whilst Maro Itoje and Alun Wyn Jones all but guaranteed a spot on the plane to New Zealand, there is uncertainty around other potential locks. While Joe Launchbery and the Gray brother’s look to be ahead of Ryan, should the Munster man continue his impressive form he may sneak into Gatland’s plans.