Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

McBride 'gutted' by O'Driscoll omission

Willie John McBride is baffled by Warren Gatland's decision to drop Brian O'Driscoll, pictured
Willie John McBride is baffled by Warren Gatland's decision to drop Brian O'Driscoll, pictured

Willie John McBride expects Australia coach Robbie Deans will be delighted after the British and Irish Lions omitted Brian O'Driscoll from Saturday's decisive third Test in Sydney.

O'Driscoll was dropped as head coach Warren Gatland made six changes from last weekend's 16-15 defeat, with the returning Jamie Roberts to partner fellow Welshman Jonathan Davies in midfield.

Lions legend McBride told BBC Radio 4: "I was absolutely gutted. The first thing that came into my mind was that Deans, the Australian coach, must be laughing all the way. The Australian media and others, Eddie Jones the previous Australian coach, have convinced them to drop O'Driscoll which I find amazing."

He added: "He was the guy I would have tipped as captain of the tour. He has been a big influence so far. You live and die by the team you pick and we will see what Saturday brings.

"Brian O'Driscoll has been the greatest player we have ever produced in Ireland and I still think he is a major influence in any team."

Keith Wood, another former Lion, believes O'Driscoll's experience as a four-time Lions tourist with 125 caps to his name will be sorely missed and that Gatland has erred badly in not recognising the value of leadership.

"I've been uncomfortable throughout this tour whenever Warren Gatland has spoken about the captaincy," Wood told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"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."

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