â00This is a massive honour, although it wasnâ00t something I had aspired to,â0 said Oâ00Connell after being chosen to head a 37-man squad for the 10-match tour of the Republic.
â00When you look at the captains who have gone before, they are legends of the game and this is an incredible thing for me. But now it is about winning on tour.
â00Winning the series would be incredible. It is not something that happens very often, so it makes the achievement all the more special. When you look at the players who won in South Africa in 1997 they are legends now.
â00To achieve that in South Africa against the world champions would be an amazing achievement.â0
Oâ00Connell takes over as Lions skipper from fellow Irishman Brian Oâ00Driscoll, who led the Lions in 2005 before injury ended his tour involvement just minutes into the first Test.
Oâ00Driscoll captained Ireland to Grand Slam glory in this yearâ00s Six Nations and Oâ00Connell insists the two will work well together when it comes to facing the might of South Africa with the Lions.
â00Being made captain ahead of Brian Oâ00Driscoll isnâ00t going to cause any problems between him and me,â0 added Oâ00Connell.
â00Whenever I have played under Brian Oâ00Driscoll I have said nothing more or less than I would have done had I been captain. Iâ00ve spoken to Brian and heâ00s cool about it. As far as Iâ00m, concerned, the more people who have an input, who drive things on, the more successful we will be.â0
Ian McGeechan has chosen Paul O'Connell as his 2009 Lions captain
Having been part of a series defeat against the All Blacks four years ago, Oâ00Connell is desperate to avoid a similar outcome this time around. The imposing second row wants to join Bill MacLagan, Johnny Hammond, Willie-John McBride and Martin Johnson as a winning skippers in South Africa but he knows a huge amount of hard work will be required if that dream is to become a reality.
â00This is my second tour and I learned a lot of things in 2005. The players really have to front up on this tour. We had a lot of excuses in New Zealand in 2005. Those excuses arenâ00t going to be there on the 2009 tour.
â00We have to front up and produce the goods, which is something we didnâ00t do four years ago. It is down to the players to take this tour by the scruff of the neck.
â00It is going to be an immensely difficult challenge. The Springboks are the world champions, but then thatâ00s what makes it all the more exciting.
â00South Africa have got a fabulous side. They are immensely disciplined â00 you only have to look at their performances in the Rugby World Cup to see that. They are a top class side who arenâ00t champions of the world for nothing.
â00There are so many obstacles in our way, and so many challenges ahead of us, but thatâ00s what makes this tour so special.â0