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Quinlan ‘Shocked’ By His Lions Selection

Quinlan ‘Shocked’ By His Lions Selection

“Alan Quinlan is someone who will have quite a big impact on the environment and the character of the squad as it evolves,” said Lions head coach Ian McGeechan, as he explained the Tipperary man’s inclusion in his 37-man touring party.

Having failed to feature for Ireland during the successful RBS 6 Nations campaign, Alan Quinlan thought his chance of making this summer’s Lions tour was gone.

But, thanks to his undeniable form in the Test-like setting of the Heineken Cup, Quinlan forced his way into the Lions management’s thinking and has secured a well-deserved place on the tour plane to South Africa.

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The battle-hardened flanker, who boasts an admirable blend of match-winning brute, footballing skills and tactical nous, has not always had the best of luck, losing out in tight selection calls and having to cope with ill-timed injuries.

And the flood of congratulations and good wishes from all four provinces for the man known as ‘Quinny’ shows you how highly thought of he is. From captaining the Ireland Youths in 1993 to becoming a Lions tourist, it has been quite a journey.

“I was shocked to be honest, really really shocked,” Quinlan told the Irish Examiner, describing the moment he watched Lions manager Gerald Davies read out his name.

“I didn’t feel I was anywhere in contention. I know I was mentioned a bit in the last week or two by certain pundits and people in the media – there were small mentions in dispatches.

“I was at home and I watched the announcement on the news. I watched it more to see how many Irish players would get in.

“There was a curiosity there to see how many of the lads were in, particularly Munster players. I was just amazed and shocked…I got such a fright!

“I just don’t know what to think really because I suppose when I didn’t play in the Six Nations, I didn’t feel I had a chance, but I’m really proud and honoured to be selected. It certainly feels good.”

Quinlan admitted that he did not think gaining a prized spot in the Lions squad was attainable for him, with age not on his side, his lack of Test rugby and the sheer competitiveness of the back row.

“I suppose at the start of every year you set yourself goals. You want to play for Ireland, you want to do well with Munster. However, I didn’t think it was possible to tour with the Lions.

“But you do think of the players who missed out. There were obviously some tight calls.

“I feel sorry for Denis Leamy in particular, and John Hayes and Marcus Horan. Those guys played really well in the Six Nations.”