Brian O'Driscoll is relishing the prospect of playing for the British and Irish Lions in eight months' time despite his bittersweet experience as captain in New Zealand.
The Lions suffered a deflating 3-0 series defeat to the All Blacks in 2005 and O'Driscoll's tour was infamously ended by a shoulder injury just seconds into the first Test.
But the sour taste left by that incident has long since faded and, evidently energised by Leinster's Heineken Cup win over Edinburgh on Saturday and Ireland's autumn itinerary of matches, O'Driscoll is looking forward to another Lions tour.
"Whilst something which is eight months away isn't in the forefront of my mind, the players and the fans are fully aware already that this is a Lions season," he said.
"There's a heck of a lot of ruby to be played before then and as a player you are almost afraid to think too much about it, as so much can happen in that period.
"You really need to be in form going into the Six Nations and then the final rounds of the Heineken Cup before you are in with a real chance of selection.
"To me, the Lions is the carrot dangling heavily at the end of the season."
O'Driscoll scored a sublime try in the Pool Two victory for Leinster at Murrayfield and set up another for Felipe Contepomi during an eye-catching display.
The star centre has come in for criticism for an apparent recent loss of form, but after being rested for last week's Magners League trip to Connacht, he showed glimpses of his best in the European opener.
His hard hits, jinking runs and clever passes helped Leinster overcome the banana skin of Edinburgh and while O'Driscoll may have lost some of his top-end speed, he still remains one of the best midfielders in world rugby.
Turning 30 in January, the Dubliner is well aware that he is in the final years of his career and being part of a winning Lions tour in South Africa is a major ambition.
"It isn't about avenging the missed opportunities of the last tour, but I'd really love to be part of another Lions series," he said.
"I have been fortunate enough to play on two tours now. We should have won in Australia in 2001, and then the New Zealand tour for me was over before it started and we lost miserably.
"The Lions creates such excitement amongst players and fans across all of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
"You forget the enormity of it until the Lions season starts. It's the rareness of the event that makes it such a huge spectacle."
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.