AUSTRALIAN RUGBY SUPPORTERS have long been members of the Brian O’Driscoll fan-club, ever since the Irish centre set the 2001 Lions tour alight with scything breaks and stunning tries.
Aussies were asked to vote for the player the believe will lead the class of 2013 Down Under this summer and O’Driscoll won by a landslide.
The Irishman received 50% of the votes in the rugby.com.au poll, which asked fans who should captain the British & Irish Lions this year.
O’Driscoll appeared in all three Test matches against Australia in 2001 and announced himself in the first Test when he took a Jonny Wilkinson pass at full tilt and evaded several Aussies before diving over for a memorable try.
The 34-year-old told the official Lions website that he will decide on his rugby future in July, coinciding with the end of the tour.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland is said to have decided his captain already but England and Harlequins flanker, Chris Robshaw’s case has not been helped by waning returns for country and club.
Paul O’Connell put in a monumental effort in Munster’s Heineken Cup win over Robshaw’s ‘Quins at the weekend but his name was not included in the poll shortlist – O’Driscoll, Robshaw, Sam Warburton, Jamie Heaslip, Ryan Jones, Kelly Brown.
Warburton, who captained Wales once during their successful Six Nations captain, got 30% of the vote. Robshaw was third with 10%. Brown, the Scottish captain, got 5%, Welsh back-row tyro Jones got 4% while Heaslip, the current Irish captain, got just 1%.
The captain will be announced, along with the provisional Lions squad, on 30 April.