Shanklin to push BOD

Double Lions tourist Tom Shanklin insists he hopes to push 2005 tour captain Brian O'Driscoll all the way for a Test place in South Africa this summer. [more]

Shanklin to push BOD

Double Lions tourist Tom Shanklin insists he hopes to push 2005 tour captain Brian O’Driscoll all the way for a Test place in South Africa this summer.

The 29-year-old Cardiff Blues outside centre was named in his second Lions party on Tuesday and has now turned his attention to competing with the likes of O’Driscoll and Keith Earls for the No13 shirt against the Springboks on June 20.

And, despite the impressive form of Ireland’s Grand Slam winning skipper, Shanklin has his heart set on doing everything possible to persuade Ian McGeechan to give him a Test start in Durban.

“Myself and Brian play in the same position so it is always going to be very tough when you have a great player like that but my job will be to push him all the way,” Shanklin told Wales Online.

“No one is assured of their place in the team before we get on the plane and I am going to have to raise my game in training to push him all the way.

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“There are a lot of players who peak at different times throughout their career and to go on two Lions tours means you are in a good run at the top level. I can’t wait for this.”

Like O’Driscoll, Shanklin’s 2005 tour came to a disappointing end after injury intervened.

The former Saracens player had been in superb form as he helped his country to a Six Nations clean sweep earlier that year but a knee injury robbed him of a possible Lions Test place in the lead up to the first international in Christchurch.

He now hopes to put that experience behind him and help the Lions emulate the success of the 1997 squad – the first tour a young Shanklin remembers watching.

“It was very hard when I got injured in New Zealand and then when Brian got injured in the first Test it was even harder – there would have been a space for me,” added Shanklin.

“I have watched the DVD of that 1997 tour several times and I think it is the best DVD ever made. You could see the atmosphere was incredible and that was one of the reasons it was a successful tour.

“I was 17 and really getting into rugby when I watched that tour and it will always stay with me. I think we can learn a lot from that tour especially from the team atmosphere they created.

“I remember Warren (Gatland) saying a while ago that the Lions is not what people are like on the field but what they are like off the field and what they bring. You need social players and guys who can bring everyone together. That’s just as important as issues on the pitch.”

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