Eddie O'Sullivan believes 10 of his former Ireland charges will get a Lions call up for the summer tour to South Africa.
O’Sullivan begins his reign as USA head coach with a Test next month against Ireland in California but he is not expecting the core of the Irish Grand Slam-winning side to face his Eagles in Santa Clara.
“I think it could be as many as 10 of that starting XV that could make the Lions and that’s not an extraordinary number,” O’Sullivan said.
“They have been the form team of the (RBS 6 Nations) championship along with Wales, who’ll have a big say in it as well, but picking on form I think Ireland will have a big say in the Lions tour.”
O’Sullivan won three Triple Crowns as Ireland coach after taking over from Warren Gatland in 2001 and before stepping down at the end of the 2008 Six Nations.
His successor Declan Kidney guided the men in green to a Grand Slam at the first attempt but O’Sullivan was full of praise for the Irish success.
“I was delighted for them. That Irish team that has been together for the last six, seven or eight years deserved to win the Grand Slam.
“We’ve been close with that Grand Slam for a number of years and it just didn’t happen for us and I think they realised that if it didn’t happen this time it would never happen for that group of players.
“That doesn’t mean Ireland won’t win Grand Slams in the future - I’m sure they will - but the fact that those players that won in Cardiff, most of them have been on the road a while and they deserved that level of success.
“I was delighted for people like Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, John Hayes, Ronan O’Gara, guys who have been around the team for a number of years and worked very hard.”