Gregan leads waltzing O'Driscoll chorus
Remember his try in the second Test?
“Mate, I remember we had to look at him carefully for that second Test in Perth in 1999 because he was so impressive the week before on his first cap. We were thinking: ‘Who is this young guy!’
“I would love to see him playing next year. Australia have a bit of a soft spot for Brian because we love attacking sports people. And he is certainly that. He even stole our song, Waltzing O’Driscoll.”
Including six Lions appearances, O’Driscoll is 13 caps off Gregan’s world record of 139.
“I couldn’t think of a better person to break it than Brian.”
What about the enigma that is Quade Cooper? Petulant yet occasionally sensational, Cooper is certainly the most skilful player in the game but can he get the job done in the white heat of a Lions Test series (because he was unable to do it at the World Cup)?
“Yes, if Quade plays at the level which we know he can play. He still hasn’t performed to the level he would expect of himself on the big stage, in high-pressure Test matches. And that’s what the Lions series is.
“Can the Wallaby team win it without him? I’m sure they can. They have found a way all this year.
“He hasn’t played for the Wallabies yet but Christian Lealiifano of the Brumbies was the premier 10 last year until he broke and dislocated his ankle so there are other options.”
The Auckland-born Lealiifano has everything: magic hands, pace, power, agility and a ridiculous siege-gun boot.
“I look back 12 years ago when we lost Stephen Larkham for the third Test but were able to slip in Elton Flatley with Nathan Grey slotting into 12.”
Gregan believes that Grey’s illegal intervention ultimately turned that series Australia’s way. “The Lions won the first three halves of that series. Comfortably. We were just hanging on. Then there was a breakaway and Richard Hill broke through and was tackled, high tackled by Nathan Grey.
“We knocked out Richard Hill and he was about to throw that last pass which may have led to a try before half-time.
“We dodged a bullet there and went into half-time only 11-6 down.If they got to 17-3 we might not have come back. Who knows.”
The Wallabies survived and 15 seconds into the second half they thrived in that stubborn, ruthless manner of theirs.