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Lions keeps the life in Brian

first_imgBrian O’Driscoll feels being on this year’s British and Irish Lions tour is helping to keep him young. At the same time, there is a significant effect an elder statesman like O’Driscoll can have upon the new generation in terms of aiding their maturing process, and the Dubliner is very much keeping in mind that he is a thoroughly seasoned campaigner mixing with plenty of players for whom the Lions environment is entirely new. “There are guys on a completely different level to you, in their early 20s and on a massive learning curve,” he said. “I’m far from knowing it all, but I’ve seen a lot of things now in my professional career.” Of course, beyond the range of ages, the key way in which Lions tours bring together different types of player is with regard to nationalities, as men accustomed to taking each other on in international competition become team-mates. Leinster man O’Driscoll said: “The Lions is so unique; you kick lumps out of all these guys year on year, and they’re massive adversaries. Then all of a sudden they become your team-mates. “You’re forced to bond in a six or seven-week period, and play for one another against one of the three best teams in the world. You have preconceived notions about what sort of guys particular individuals are. You see the way they carry on on the pitch, and you might think they’re not your type of people. “But then they can completely surprise you; you can room with someone for two or three days and they become your best friend.” The 34-year-old Ireland centre, who has been involved in three previous Lions tours, was the oldest member of the squad in Australia until ex-Wales winger Shane Williams, 36, was called up ahead of Tuesday’s match against the Brumbies. And regarding his younger colleagues within the 2013 party, O’Driscoll told the Radio Times: “I have 12 years and more on some of these guys. Stuart Hogg is the youngest guy in the squad at 20. I’m 34, so I’ve got 14 years on him. That’s a frightening thought – 12 years ago he was in short pants! It keeps me young, though. I go into training every day and the level of conversation definitely keeps me young.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Wenger responds to Mourinho complaint

first_imgArsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit back at old rival Jose Mourinho by saying his team do not get an easy ride over fixtures. “It is depending on objective analysis. A day is 24 hours and you count how many times you have rest between games. “I didn’t make the study, it was made by an independent company. I cannot influence that.” The thorny matter of fixture congestion will raise its head again after Arsenal were drawn against Liverpool in the FA Cup, with the tie likely to be selected for live television coverage. That clash, slated for the weekend of February 15 and 16, will come just days before Arsenal’s Champions League last 16 first-leg clash with Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium and after vital Premier League games against both Liverpool away and Manchester United at home. Such testing periods have broken the Gunners in the past, but Wenger has told his players to absorb the occasion and pressure this time around. “It is an interesting (FA Cup) draw and a difficult one; we have a little advantage by playing at home,” he said. “Overall it’s a great difficulty and we will try and absorb it and come out in a positive way. “(There are) plenty of big games. It means the squad will need to be highly focused, (it is) a massive challenge and we are confident we can do that.” Chelsea boss Mourinho said last week that the Gunners get a certain “influence” when it came to their schedule, something Wenger was eager to refute on Monday morning. “It is simple – look at the fixtures and analyse it. I trust you will give an objective view,” the Arsenal boss said. “You will see Arsenal are behind all the other teams. In the last five years all the objective studies that have been made show Arsenal had less rest than any other team in the top four. “That is fact. It has nothing to do with my opinion. It is an independent company that made (the study) that shows Arsenal had less rest than any other team in the top level.” It is understood the study Wenger was referring to was internal analysis of Arsenal’s fixture programme. Wenger cited his side’s hectic schedule just before Christmas when they played at Manchester City on a Saturday lunchtime following a midweek European trip to Napoli, both of which ended in defeat. Mourinho’s comments about Arsenal fixtures came in response to criticism from Wenger about Chelsea’s decision to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United. Wenger insisted the war of words was not part of any mind games campaign on his part, with his team one point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Chelsea going into the midweek Premier League programme. The Gunners travel to Southampton on Tuesday night. “It is not mind games. It is opinions,” Wenger said. “But I don’t live with opinions, I live with facts. and the facts don’t depend on me or Mourinho. Press Associationlast_img read more