Tuesday 24 April 2018

'There has to be someone to point the finger at in defeat' - Brian O'Driscoll on Peter O'Mahony's Lions omission

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former British & Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll believes that Peter O'Mahony has been forced to pay for the Lions opening Test defeat to New Zealand last weekend.

The Lions crashed to a 30-15 loss in the first Test in Auckland's Eden Park with Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland deciding to drop incumbent captain Peter O'Mahony from the matchday 23 for the second Test in Wellington this Saturday.

The Munster skipper will be replaced in the starting side by tour captain Sam Warburton, who returns to the side as skipper after starting last weekend's match from the bench.

O'Mahony's omission and Warburton's promotion to the Test side was predicted by many given Gatland's high praise for Warbuton's impact off the bench.

The Ireland flanker's fate was arguably sealed there and then, but it was confirmed on Wednesday when Gatland announced his team for the second Test.

O'Driscoll, who was famously dropped by Gatland for the tourists' series decider against the Wallabies in Sydney four years ago, wrote on Twitter that the blame for the first Test defeat was being directed at O'Mahony.

"Very tough on Pete O'Mahony going from skipper to non 23. He'll come again," O'Driscoll wrote.

When Australian international Matt Giteau asked 'how does that happen?' O'Driscoll responded with: "Has to be someone to point the finger at in defeat."

When Twitter user Gethyn Hudson disagreed with O'Driscoll's premise, the former Ireland centre encouraged him to see O'Mahony's dismissal in a wider context.

"Don't think there is a finger being pointed," wrote Hudson.

"He lead team well and did a good job. Coaches want a different job and didn't get selected."

To which O'Driscoll replied: "Well he was captain & now isn't togging out. Read between the lines..."

Gatland delivered the news to O’Mahony privately before informing the squad overnight and said that he wanted his side to have more impact at ruck time, the area where Warburton is strongest.

“It was a tough call,” Gatland said of his decision to axe O’Mahony.

“We looked at that and felt it was an opportunity to bring in Sam and Maro who both made an impact off the bench last week.

“We need to get some pressure on the ball and that’s something Sam is excellent at doing and he has got some rugby under his belt now.

“We could have put Peter on the bench and we had a long discussion about that, but CJ Stander has had an outstanding Six Nations and was good the other night with his carries and his physicality, so the impact he is able to bring off the bench could be significant.

“Look, Peter has been very unlucky. He has done a great job for us in terms of the games he has been involved in and the captaincy.

“He’s unlucky enough that we can have got choices and can make changes and use different combinations.”

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