Forget the fairytale ending. Brian O’Driscoll, the most decorated centre of all-time has been left off the squad for the third test of the Lions Tour. This is a travesty for so many reasons.
The most basic of all: Driscoll has been in fine form. He has scored several tries on tour and defensively, he has remained elite. There is no doubt that Jamie Roberts is an outstanding centre. However, while his inclusion is justified, if Jonathon Davies was dropped, no one outside Wales would bat an eyelid. We have seen what BOD and Roberts are capable of doing while they played together on the tour of South Africa. There, when healthy, the duo ripped asunder several strong defences and when replaced in the outstanding second test, the Lions momentum was halted. On the other hand, although Davies and Roberts are seasoned International Test team-mates, Davies does not command the same level of respect as O’Driscoll, nor does he hold as much defensive tenacity.
This is a Lions squad bereft of leaders compared to previous tours. O’Connell, BOD and Warburton were the only real leaders and now, NONE of them play in the final test. Alan Wyn Jones was not even considered a starter for the side earlier in the tour, and now he will captain the side. O’Driscoll’s ability to be a “Big-Game player” in unmatched in the past decade? Bar Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara, he is probably unmatched in this category.
It is worth noting that Manu Tuiligi is on the bench as centre cover for the not match fit Roberts. Gatland is exposing an inexperienced loose cannon ahead of BOD in a Lions 3rd test. In non politically correct terminology, Gatland has shat himself 3 days ahead of the test. He thinks he has been brave in his decision making, but really it is a reckless decision. All the other changes made to the team from the second test are perfectly justified, but Roberts and a game-fit Driscoll are much more potent and defensively strong than Roberts and Davies.
This keyboard warrior rant is over … however, I feel it will resume by tomorrow. It will be highly interesting to see O’Driscoll’s backlash on Gatland. My estimate is that this will be on the 8th of February in his last game against Wales, through his actions, rather than his words.
To be Continued.