Tuesday 16 January 2018

O'Driscoll: Of course I resent Gatland for dropping me from the Lions

BOD finally reveals his feelings on one of the most controversial decisions of the year, writes Ruadhri O'Connor

O'Driscoll and Gatland at training after the decision
O'Driscoll and Gatland at training after the decision
Brian O'Driscoll, left, and Warren Gatland

Ruadhri O'Connor

TWO months on from the decision that rocked the rugby world, Brian O'Driscoll has admitted that he resents Warren Gatland for leaving him out of the Lions team to play the decisive third Test against Australia.

The former Ireland captain opened up in an interview with his friend and former team-mate Shane Horgan, which was on Sky Sports last night.

In it, he admitted that missing the final clash of the series meant that he would not reflect on the victory with the same sense of satisfaction as his Grand Slam and Heineken Cup wins despite finding himself on the losing side for the tourists in 2001, 2005 and 2009 and said Gatland was not on his Christmas card list.


A former Lions captain, O'Driscoll started the opening test win over Australia and the subsequent second game defeat to the Wallabies.

He was tipped to skipper the side in Sam Warburton's absence for the decider, but instead was beckoned into a room by Gatland and Wales assistant coach Rob Howley and informed that he was dropped from the team and the bench.

The decision caused uproar in Ireland, with former captain Keith Wood saying that the entire ethos of the Lions had been harmed despite the team winning the series with a 41-13 win over Australia.

And O'Driscoll is clearly not over the crushing disappointment, despite taking to Twitter to say that his quotes had been taken out of context.

"Do I resent him? Yeah there's resentment of course. Is he on the Christmas card list? Unlikely," he said.

"People will say the decision was justified because of the result and the performance. I guess the way the team played, I felt within the No 13 jersey that I might have been able to do a decent job within that cog of the team, the way they played in that game.

"What should have probably been one of the greatest achievements in my career hasn't unfortunately turned out to be that case.

"I'll probably look on some other things that I have won with greater affection because of the manner in which the series finished.

"Again, I don't apologise for that, that's just my gut, it's just how I feel.

"When you have achieved a bit of success, you do get selfish for it and you can't get enough. It's not about waving goodbye to everyone and this is the end.

"It's about doing laps of the pitch with the trophy and sharing those great moments with team-mates."

O'Driscoll explained how Gatland, who gave him his first Ireland cap when he was in charge of Ireland in 1999, had broken the bad news to him.

And he admitted that the decision to pick England centre Manu Tuilagi on the bench ahead of him made it worse.

"I was making myself a coffee and I got a tap on the shoulder and Gats (Gatland) was there and Rob Howley was there behind him and I thought, 'two is trouble!" he said.

"And I got asked, can we have a word in the team meeting room and we went in and it pretty much just came out that 'we don't have a place for you this weekend'.

"I didn't actually know about Manu and I didn't ask them what the bench was, so until the team was read out and I didn't know that Manu was the spare outside back on the team, so that was kind of a kick in the guts."

O'Driscoll's parting remarks will come as a fillip to Irish fans ahead of the new season which starts tonight, as the Ireland legend – who will retire at the end of the season – wants to win everything available to him before bowing out.

"You want to win the Rabo, you want to win the Heineken and you want to win the Six Nations. So if you gain me one of them, I'd be happy. Two of them, very happy. Three, ecstatic," he said.

Irish Independent

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