deans: lions will miss O'DRISCOLL'S experience
AUSTRALIA stopped short of dancing a jig of delight but they cannot believe their good fortune at not having to face Brian O'Driscoll tomorrow, WRITES CONOR GEORGE.
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 to the tourists' team selection.
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 (in 2009) and deny us the win. He's a class player, a class bloke," said Deans.
"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."
Few from this hemisphere would be surprised if, 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 tomorrow's deciding Test.