Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Robbie Deans can’t believe his luck with exit of Brian O'Driscoll

Australia head coach Robbie Deans has hailed Brian O'Driscoll 'a class player and class bloke'
Australia head coach Robbie Deans has hailed Brian O'Driscoll 'a class player and class bloke'

Australia stopped short of dancing a jig of delight but they cannot believe their good fortune at not having to face Brian O’Driscoll on Saturday.

When it was suggested Jamie Roberts was likely to be fit for the deciding Test the Wallabies fully expected him to be paired with O’Driscoll. Roberts would do the hard carrying leaving O’Driscoll to deliver the knock-out blow.

It is not overstating matters to suggest the veteran centre is one of the few Lions’ players the Australians truly rate and are wary of.

“We'd anticipated that he'd be there,” was Robbie Deans’ diplomatic reaction.

His comment concealed the true depth of his feelings, it barely scratched the surface. Deans remembers well the damage O’Driscoll inflicted on Australia in the not too distant past.

He was at the heart of Ireland’s win over them at the 2011 World Cup and also wounded them in 2009.

“He scored the try in the last minute to draw the game and deny us the win.

“He's a class player, a class bloke.

“He's been part of many Lions’ series so it would have been a fitting send off for him. He'll be disappointed and from our perspective it's a little bit of experience gone,” Deans added.

Privately the Australian camp are cock-a-hoop at the Lions’ selection, especially in the centre because they truly believe they have the measure of the Welsh pair.

They are forewarned as to what to expect — “we've played against them many times,” said Deans — and the Wallaby camp do genuinely believe they have been handed a crucial advantage for Saturday’s deciding Test.

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