O’Kelly targets double All Blacks scalp

Malcolm O'Kelly may become Ireland's most capped player against Scotland on Saturday but the giant lock has bigger targets in his sights with the British & Irish tour of New Zealand around the corner. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Malcolm O’Kelly may become Ireland’s most capped player against Scotland on Saturday but the giant lock has bigger targets in his sights with the British & Irish tour of New Zealand around the corner.

The 30-year-old Leinster star had already earned the praise of Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward for his towering performance in his club’s 30-11 European Cup Pool Two victory over Bath last October and is aiming to keep the complements coming in the Six Nations.

He hopes this will make up for the disappointment of failing to secure a Lions Test team spot in 2001.

"It’s one of my goals I have left, I suppose,’ he said.

"It would be great to make it again – but this time, not just the extended squad.

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"New Zealand are the only team I haven’t beaten with Ireland, and if I’m lucky I might get to do it a couple of times this year.

"I’ll just keep concentrating on my own game, and hope it pays off in the end.

"The All Blacks come to Dublin too in November and it would be nice, if I’m selected, to beat them then. But that’s a long way off yet.’

O’Kelly makes his 70th Test appearance at Murrayfield – taking over the Irish record from legendary centre Mike Gibson, who accumulated his haul of
69 from 1964 to 1979 at the same time as holding down a career as a lawyer.

Seventy not out for modern-day professional O’Kelly is still an achievement to be hailed in the Dubliner’s eyes.

"I’ve been very lucky to be involved with a successful Irish team, and really, I came into the rugby world at a good time – at the dawn of professionalism.

"But I must have done something right to get up to 70.

"You still have to go out there and lace up your boots, so I’m delighted to get to Mike Gibson’s mark after eight seasons,’ added O’Kelly, the holder of a masters degree in Mathematics.

O’Kelly has become something of a focal point in Eddie O’Sullivan’s Irish side over the last three years, after making his debut against New Zealand in 1997.

The 6ft 8in lock has started 15 of Ireland’s last 16 Tests, and is not about to call it a day just yet.

"Even though Brian (O’Driscoll) – on 50-something caps – and the others will probably pass me out in time, if I stay clear of injury with my contract up in two seasons, I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t continue.

"If I still feel I am capable of making a difference on the pitch, then there’s no reason not to. Gareth Llewellyn is still lining out for Wales at nearly 36,’ he added.

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