Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Brian O'Driscoll admits 'resentment' at Gatland over Lions' squad axe

Backlash: Lions' players Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip have both slammed manager Warren Gatland

Forgiving and forgetting is meant to be easier in victory than in defeat, but as the great Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll considered his omission from the last Lions Test of the summer series in Australia as a trouncing of the most personal kind, the normal rules do not apply.

The Lions may have won the series, but the Dubliner made clear yesterday that he took no great pleasure in the achievement.

"Of course I wanted the team to win, but I'll probably look back on some other things that I've won with greater affection because of the manner in which the series finished," said O'Driscoll, who was dropped for the deciding meeting with the Wallabies in Sydney by the head coach, Warren Gatland.

It was an act that provoked a firestorm of criticism throughout, and beyond, the Emerald Isle. "I don't apologise for that. It's just my gut. It's how I feel," he said.

O'Driscoll, speaking in an interview broadcast on Sky Sports, recalled the moment he was informed of Gatland's decision.

"I was making myself a coffee and I got a tap on the shoulder and Gats was there with Rob Howley (the attack coach) behind him and I thought: 'Two is trouble.'

"We went into the team room and it pretty much just came out that 'we don't have a place for you this weekend'."

Asked if he resented Gatland, he replied: "Yeah, there's resentment, of course. Is he on the Christmas card list? Unlikely."

Gatland's ears were still likely to be burning, though, especially as a second experienced Irish Lion vented his spleen over selection in Australia.

The No 8 Jamie Heaslip, one of O'Driscoll's fellow Leinster contingent who was also dropped from the final Test, said he was "p****d off" with the way things turned out, adding: "I felt very much like a third wheel. I didn't want to be there. I remember walking around and keeping my distance from the lads celebrating. It was a very tough moment."

* Ulster lock Dan Tuohy has avoided a citing for the high tackle that hospitalised England fly-half Toby Flood.

Flood, the Leicester captain, was knocked out during last Saturday's pre-season victory for the home side at Welford Road and spent the night at Leicester Royal Infirmary where scans revealed no further damage.

Tuohy was sin-binned for the offence but the Rugby Football Union have revealed they would be unable to take any further action due to a disciplinary loophole – that they will see now seek to close – arising out of the game's pre-season status.

"Ulster players were not subject to the RFU's jurisdiction in this match and as a result no action can be taken," an RFU spokesperson said.

"Clubs can agree how discipline should be dealt with in advance of such games and we're looking to see how we can make sure this always happens in the future."

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