Saturday 20 January 2018

Brian O'Driscoll names his two shock Lions squad omissions and explains why Scottish fans are justifiably aggrieved

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll

Four-times Lions tourist Brian O'Driscoll believes Warren Gatland was right to name a large 41-man squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.

After months of speculation, the make-up of the British and Irish Lions squad is known.

There were surprise call-ups for Ireland full-back Jared Payne, England wing Jack Nowell and Wales back row Ross Moriarty.

There are two Scots present in wing Tommy Seymour and full-back Stuart Hogg, with the remainder of the squad made up of 16 Englishmen, 12 Welshmen and 11 players from Ireland.

Speaking on BT Sport's Facebook page today, Ireland's record tryscorer and 2005 Lions captain revealed the two men he was most surprised to see miss out.

"I think the size of the squad is a surprise. It's only three less than Clive Woodward brought 12 years ago and he was hatcheted for that," he said.

"I think you will need a squad that size.

"I think the two standout omissions are Dylan Hartley, people talked about him as a possible Lions captain and then he doesn't make the squad, and the second one, in a very competitive second row, is not seeing Joe Launchbury in there.

"It's a long time before they even travel. Unfortunately we're going to have three, four casualties before the plane even leaves these shores to get down to New Zealand. On top of that you're probably looking at three or four injuries at least over the course of the tour.

"It's a very attritional position, so if I was Joe Launchbury, I wouldn't be putting my feet up just yet."

Hartley is the third successive England captain to miss out, following in the footsteps of Chris Robshaw and Steve Borthwick.

A tweet from the official Wasps Twitter account said they were 'gobsmacked' by Launchbury's omission.

Among those unfortunate to miss out are Chris Robshaw, Joe Launchbury, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, and Jonny and Richie Gray.

But there are also a number of surprise picks, among them Ben Te'o, Ian Henderson, Justin Tipuric and Kyle Sinckler.

Scottish fans have reacted angrily to the fact to the squad and O'Driscoll believes they are justifiably aggrieved following their strong showing in the Six Nations.

"Beat Ireland, beat Wales, would I feel hard done by if I was Scottish? I would. First time since 1908 that they haven't had a representative in the pack," he added.

"Not having either of the Gray brothers, there was talk of Hamish Watson maybe being included, WP Nel probably would have been included in the tighthead group if he had been fit

"Another person who could feel hard done by is Finn Russell."

For the first time since he was 17, BOD is not in a Lions squad.

Asked who should wear his number 13 shirt in New Zealand, he said: "I think it's going to be a shootout between Robbie Henshaw and Jonathan Davies, with Owen Farrell at 12 and Johnny Sexton at 10. I think Henshaw has the capability of playing 13 and he has the perfect game for playing down in New Zealand.

"This guy has a huge engine and that's what you need. You need to be an 80 minute man."

O'Driscoll highlighted the fact that getting the right blend of characters and personalities in the squad was also important.

"You have to remember that some guys are being picked for obviously their talent and the manner in which they play, but also (for being) good tourists, good people as well," he added.

"That's a big, important factor as far as Warren Gatland is concerned."

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