Brian O’Driscoll feels “totally gutted” after being cut from Saturday’s decisive final Lions test against Australia in Sydney.
O’Driscoll is on his fourth and final Irish Lions tour and was the leading candidate to replace injured captain Sam Warburton.
After news of his ouster was revealed, critics quickly attacked the decision. Former Ireland captain Keith Wood told BBC Radio 5 Live:
“I’ve been uncomfortable throughout this tour whenever Warren Gatland has spoken about the captaincy.”
“He tries to depower it, he consistently says it isn’t about leadership and that isn’t the most important thing. Having been on two Lions tours myself under (former England skipper) Martin Johnson, I would have said the leadership of the captain was the most important thing. Brian O’Driscoll has been quiet in the two Tests but at every stage, he has been the clarion call once Paul O’Connell got injured. I just think Gatland has made a terrible mistake.”
The move also shuffles around the roster with Jonathan Davies moving to outside-center in order to accomodate Jamie Roberts who missed the first two tests with a hamstring injury. Mike Phillips also returns to action at scrum-half after missing the clubs Melbourne match because of a sore knee. Furthering the roster, Alex Corbisiero returns at prop, Richard Hibbard starts his first Test at hooker, and Sean O’Brien plays in the back row where he will take over from Warburton on the open-side with Toby Faletau. Georff Parling holds strong in the second row. Justin Tipuric and Manu Tuilagi will come off the bench to offer thrust when necessary.
Warren Gatland says of the choice to cut Brian O’Driscoll and the teams upcoming match:
“It all comes down to Saturday. Winner takes all. We know we can leave nothing in the tank and that only a complete performance will get us across the line. Picking this team was not easy and ultimately with several players available after recovering from injury the head overruled the heart in many selection decisions.
It has been a challenging tour and we have had our fair share of injuries but we always knew that would be the case. Brian O’Driscoll is a great player and has had a wonderful career but for the final Test in Sydney we just felt Jamie Roberts’s presence offered us something more. Mike Phillips and Alex Corbisiero were first Test selections and would probably have played in the second Test if not for injury. Richard Hibbard, Toby Faletau and Sean O’Brien have also earned their starting places.”
In realizing the teams decision Brian O’Driscoll sent out the following tweet:
Obviously totally gutted at being left out for deciding Test but all efforts go into preparing the boys to see it through. #seaofred
— Brian O’Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) July 3, 2013
Do you think the Lions erred in removing Brian O’Driscoll from its lineup?