Lions Tour - Axed O'Driscoll 'totally gutted'

Brian O'Driscoll admitted that he is "totally gutted" after being left out of the squad to face Australia in the final Test.

Lions Tour - Axed O'Driscoll 'totally gutted'

View photo

Brian O'Driscoll's is gutted to be dropped for the final Test (PA Photos)

Warren Gatland's decision to axe O'Driscoll from the Lions team for the third Test against Australia will ultimately be judged bold or foolhardy by the result of Saturday's match.

What is certain, though, is that being dropped was a pretty much unique experience for the centre in the 14 years since the same New Zealander awarded him the first of his 133 Test caps.

"Obviously totally gutted at being left out for deciding Test but all efforts go into preparing the boys to see it through," the 34-year-old tweeted.

Since the brilliant individual try O'Driscoll scored to help stun Australia in the opening match of the 2001 series, he has, when fit, been a fixture for the Lions over four tours.

"Picking this team was not easy and ultimately with several players available after recovering from injury the head over-ruled the heart in many selection decisions," Gatland explained.

"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' presence offered us something more."

Ever the team man, O'Driscoll will undoubtedly be front and centre at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday cheering on the Lions to what he hopes will be the first Test series victory he has been involved in.

After England's powerful Manu Tuilagi was injured early in the tour, O'Driscoll was expected to reprise the centre partnership with Roberts in the Tests that had worked so well on the 2009 tour of South Africa.

A hamstring injury to Roberts ended that option and instead it was another Welshman, Jonathan Davies, who took the inside centre role alongside O'Driscoll for the first two Tests.

Although his pace has undoubtedly diminished, O'Driscoll has retained his vision and remains a fierce competitor at the breakdown, helping the Lions to edge that key battle in last weekend's second Test defeat.

Most of all, though, it will be the leadership skills forged in four Lions series that the tourists could miss most in what is expected to be a third tight Test against the Wallabies on Saturday.

That brilliant burst from halfway against Australia at the Gabba in 2001 will remain his only try for the Lions but at least the victory in Brisbane two weeks ago doubled his tally of wins in eight Tests in the famous red shirt.

His 2005 trip to New Zealand as captain infamously ended with a spear tackle in the opening minutes of the first Test, while a concussion suffered in the second Test in South Africa in 2009 ruled him out of the third Test consolation victory.

"I don't want to be someone that has had a lot of appearances on Lions tours but not ultimately won a series," he said two weeks ago on the eve of the first Test.

"That's what it comes down to. We've talked about the tour and gelling together and everything. At the end of day this tour, if we got on terribly and won, I'd take that above getting on great and having great fun and losing a series.

"That's not what this is about, it's about winning the series."

Even in his absence from the pitch on Saturday, his team mates have an opportunity to clinch that prize and no one would begrudge "Drico" being at the heart of the celebrations if they do.

View comments (32)