THE axing of Brian O’Driscoll from the Lions team for the final test match was the ‘wrong decision’ according to Irish lock and fellow Lions tour member, Paul O’Connell.
Speaking with Ray D’Arcy on Today FM, O’Connell was emphatic on whether or not it was the right decision, while admitting a ‘bias’ towards the Irish star.
“I was shocked and disappointed,” O’Connell told D’Arcy.
“After playing so long with him, you end up being a bit of a fan. I wouldn’t say it took the gloss off it (the Lions test victory) a little bit for me… but it probably did.”
O’Connell, who stayed on to help with coaching on the tour after he suffered a broken arm in the first Test victory over the Wallabies, added that ‘it felt wrong’ to see a fit O’Driscoll wearing a suit on match-day.
“It’s a shame he wasn’t out there. Even going on the bus with him. I was injured and there were other guys resigned to the fact that they weren’t on the team – it just felt wrong that he was on the bus with the non-playing [squad] not in the 23. It just felt wrong.”
With many tipping O’Connell to be Irish captain when he returns to fitness, the 33-year-old’s feelings on the subject of O’Driscoll were raised again when D’Arcy asserted that the nation’s record try-scorer ‘wouldn’t have let anybody down.’
“It wouldn’t even be a case of letting anyone down; Brian would have been one of the best players on the pitch. That’s just the way it is," O'Connell replied.
“I thought Brian was playing well. If you look at the first two Tests there wasn’t a whole lot of quality ball given to the back-line.
“Apart from George North, who had a ball kicked down his throat and created an unbelievable try there wasn’t [sic] any backs that stood out. So it’s hard to fathom the logic behind the decision, certainly from my point of view.”
Brian O’Driscoll and the rest of the Irish members of the British and Irish Lions arrived back in Dublin Airport yesterday.