Sport Rugby

Friday 24 January 2020

Dropping Drico was the hardest thing I ever had to do, says Gatland

British& Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, right, and Brian O'Driscoll following the last test
British& Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, right, and Brian O'Driscoll following the last test
Warren Gatland (R) and Keith Wood in 2000
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

LEAVING Brian O’Driscoll out of the Lions team was “the toughest thing” Warren Gatland had to do in his managing career, he revealed tonight.

He said the decision to drop O’Driscoll form the last game in the victorious test series against Australia made it “difficult” to enjoy the result.

The Welsh manager said his description of former Irish player Keith Wood in recent days as a “me feiner” was a comment he made “in jest”.

Gatland appeared on the Late Late Show, a week after Brian O’Driscoll sat in the same seat and spoke to Ryan Tubridy about his disappointment at being dropped.

The New Zealander last night spoke of the decision saying: “To be honest it was the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my managing career… particularly someone like Brian who’s been a legend in the game.

“I gave him his first cap at 19.  “And to be the first person to actually drop him in his rugby career, it was tough.”

He added: “I did think about coming here and getting on my hands and knees and asking for forgiveness from the Irish nation.”

Gatland said he took “no pleasure” in making the call and said “It was difficult to enjoy the result” of the test series because of it.

He said O’Driscoll handing him a Christmas card, despite saying he was off his list this year, was “a nice touch” and “shows the mark of a man”.

Keith Wood, now a rugby pundit, strongly criticised Gatland over the O’Driscoll decision, prompting the Welsh coach to call him a “me feiner”.

Gatland said that his comment was “said as a joke”.

He said: “I’d taken a bit of stick from Keith and some criticism so it was just a little fun play way of me getting back at him a little bit.”


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