Two-time Lion Sean O’Brien announces retirement


Two-time Lion Sean O’Brien announces retirement

Two-time British & Irish Lions tourist Sean O’Brien has announced his retirement at the end of the season, bringing the curtain down on a 14-year career.

O’Brien starred on the 2013 Tour of Australia and 2017 series against New Zealand, while he also won 56 Ireland caps and played more 11 years at Leinster.

The Tullow Tank was a key figure on the 2013 Lions Tour to Australia that culminated in an historic 2-1 series victory and he came off the bench in the second Test before starting the decisive third.

Four years on, the Leinster man came to the fore in the first Test against New Zealand, sealing his legacy by finishing off a move that has been hailed as one of the all-time great Lions tries.

Liam Williams’ bamboozling lit the blue touch paper and Elliot Daly and Jonathan Davies combined to allow O’Brien to crash over the line and send the sea of red into raptures.

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That sensational score may not have been enough to prevent defeat in the first Test but the Irish ace played a key role in Warren Gatland’s men drawing the series.

Speaking before the decisive third Test, O’Brien summed up what the Lions meant to him.

He said: “The Lions has been a unique part of history. It’s a massive thing for players, a massive objective for players in their careers.

“As for the fans, it’s a world event. You see the crowd, and what they bring to it, and how much we enjoy it as players. It’s an amazing thing, I think.”

With Ireland, O’Brien won the Six Nations in 2015 and formed a formidable back row with fellow Lions Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip.

He won four Pro12/14 titles, four Heineken Champions Cups and won the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011 – all while at Leinster.

He joined London Irish three years ago and will finish his career with the Premiership side.

O’Brien said: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.”

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