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Reaction: Lions XV and the O'Driscoll decision

Updated: Sunday, 07 Jul 2013 13:57 | Comments

Warren Gatland's decision to omit Brian O'Driscoll from the squad for the final Lions Test team has been the subject of major debate
Warren Gatland's decision to omit Brian O'Driscoll from the squad for the final Lions Test team has been the subject of major debate

There has been a flood of reaction to Warren Gatland's decision to field 10 Welshmen in his XV and drop Brian O'Driscoll for Saturday's third Test against Australia.

Some commentators have come out strongly against the head coach's decision to go with a Welsh-dominated XV. In particular, inside and outside Ireland and in both hemispheres, there is huge surprise over the decision to omit O'Driscoll from the match-day squad.

Jamie Heaslip was also left out of the 23 after starting both Tests, but the vast majority of commentary has focussed on the decision to drop O'Driscoll.

Here, we collect a range of the commentary from newspapers, blogs and social media around the world.

Oliver Brown (Daily Telegraph): “It is also a brazen insult to the very concept of the Lions, intended to signify an unbreakable alliance of four home unions and two sovereign states but in reality more saturated in Welsh partisanship on this tour than if they were headquartered in Ebbw Vale.

New Zealand Herald: "Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll has been dumped from the British and Irish Lions team in a sensational move by coach Warren Gatland ahead of Saturday night's series decider against the Wallabies."

Willie John McBride (BBC Radio 4): "I was absolutely gutted. The first thing that came into my mind was that Deans, the Australian coach, must be laughing all the way.

"The Australian media and others, Eddie Jones the previous Australian coach, have convinced them to drop O'Driscoll which I find amazing. He was the guy I would have tipped as captain of the tour. He has been a big influence so far. You live and die by the team you pick and we will see what Saturday brings."

Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports): "It's all about leadership. The Lions had Paul O'Connell, O'Driscoll and Sam Warburton. Now they have no real leadership. Gatland is saying you pick your best 15 and then work out who leads the team.

"That is not how it is and it's not how New Zealand picked Richie McCaw. The captain is the crucial man in this team. Looking at the Lions team, I'm really concerned if it's tight and the heat comes on after 60-65 minutes. There won't be anyone to go to. Australia have captain James Horwill and scrum-half Will Genia - who do the Lions have?"

Jack De Menezes (The Independent): "As the series heads to its conclusion, the alarming similarity for any Lions fan to the last tour Down Under in 2001 will have them no doubt nervy heading into the crunch game.

"Having won the first Test in Brisbane, the Lions were defeated in the second Test in Melbourne before being soundly beaten in the final decider in Sydney, with the 2013 series following suit in an uncanny fashion."

Ian Robertson (BBC Rugby Correspondent): "The Lions won the first Test and made eight changes to their squad. The Wallabies won the second and probably won't make any changes. The Lions lose by one point and there are six changes in the team and three guys on the bench who were nowhere near the team for the second Test.

"I was convinced Brian O'Driscoll should have been named as captain. It's catastrophic leaving him out. He's still one of the top centres in world rugby. He's a fantastic guy and has been on four tours and knows it all inside out. It's a massive mistake."

Robert Kitson (The Guardian): "Because, for all Gatland's protestations about selecting from the head rather than the heart, the Lions are suddenly without two of the three men the Australians would least like to confront in a thunderous Test match of this magnitude.

"If Paul O'Connell was on the team-sheet there would be significantly more local anxiety and now the world's most-capped centre is absent as well. Only the valiant Adam Jones remains and he has failed to last an hour in either of the first two Tests."

Matt Giteau:

Brendan Fanning (BrendanFanning.com): "Gatland too will be buried in an avalanche of criticism if the Welsh midfield fires blanks on Saturday. It’s worrying that there will be 10 Wales players in the starting line-up when their record against Australia is so poor, winning just one of the last 13 Tests (losing the last eight in a row)."

George Hook

Michael Cheika (The Australian): "That one of the best players the game has ever seen will not be a part of one of the biggest matches played this century is an absolute tragedy." 

"Brian should have been the first player picked. He should have been captain. He should have been captain for the entire tour. He's the sort of player who would win a huge match like this for you, whether he had to do it from 80m out or by burrowing over from one metre out. I'm absolutely flabbergasted he hasn't been selected. The only ones who will be pleased about this will be the Wallabies.”

David Campese

Dan Carter

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