But the 31-year-old has put those concerns behind him to take his place as Ireland captain for the Dublin battle with the Springboks in the first international at the new Aviva Stadium.
"I feel good and I'm looking forward to the team coming back to what is essentially our home," said O'Driscoll.
"We've enjoyed our time at Croke Park but now we want to make some memories at the new stadium. It would have been disappointing to miss the first game at the new Aviva so I'm looking forward to playing."
Fellow Lion Gordon D'Arcy joins O'Driscoll in midfield, while Jonathan Sexton starts at fly-half ahead of Ronan O'Gara.
Sexton is partnered at halfback by clubmate Eoin Reddan as head coach Declan Kidney selects an all-Leinster backline, with the exception of the Ospreys' Lions wing Tommy Bowe.
Test Lion Luke Fitzgerald is named on the left wing for his Test in close to 12 months.
In the pack, Kidney has selected an all Lions back row of Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip, with Donncha O'Callaghan also included at lock.
With Lions captain Paul O'Connell and original tour selection Jerry Flannery both absent through injury, Mick O'Driscoll and Rory Best are chosen at second row and hooker respectively.
Kidney is yet to confirm his final member of the matchday 22, with a decision to be made between Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace and 2009 Lion Keith Earls.
As well as Saturday evening's match up with the Boks (kick off 5.30pm), Ireland also face Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina this month.
15 - Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 - Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (captain)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 - Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
10 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
9 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
1 - Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 - Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 - Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster)
6 - Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 - David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
16 - Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 - Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 - Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 - Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
21 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 - Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster)/Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)/Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
NB Bold denotes Lion