The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
South Africa will go into battle with the Lions next month as reigning world champions - the same position they held in 1997 - which confirms a huge degree of difficulty facing O’Connell and company.
And the Irish second-row giant is under no illusions about the task ahead.
“You know you are part of a marvellous tradition, but it is important to focus on the here and now,” he said.
“When your tour is done, you hope you have filled the Lions jersey, done it justice and gone the whole mile for it.
“I played in South Africa for Irish Colleges in 1999, and I will never forget how big their players were, how fast and how skilful.
“Nothing had changed by the time I returned with Ireland five years later. They have a fiery passion about their rugby.
“We’ve arrived as massive underdogs - we know it, they know it.
“You play every game away, you are always in a hostile environment and you are charged with creating a (Lions) team out of players from varied cultures and playing styles.
“But once you take that on board, you know the Lions is the highest challenge.
“I’ve won the Heineken Cup with Munster, and with Ireland we’ve ended a 61-year wait for a Grand Slam.
“You celebrate, you cut loose for a bit, then you ask yourself ’that was great, but what’s next up the ladder? What’s the next challenge up there?’ The answer for everyone here is being here.”