Heaslip 'p****d off' at Lions omission
September 5, 2013
Jamie Heaslip carries forward while on Lions duty © PA Photos
The fallout from Warren Gatland's decision to field 10 Welshmen in the British & Irish Lions' side for their third Test has continued with Jamie Heaslip opening the lid on his frustrations at missing out on selection.
Heaslip is quoted in Rugby World as saying he was "p****d off" after not featuring in the third Test against the Wallabies. Lions boss Gatland turned to the tried and tested and picked 10 Welshmen for the match, a Test the Lions won handsomely 41-16.
Brian O'Driscoll was the main casualty from Gatland's decision to rotate his squad but Heaslip also missed out having played in the first two Tests against the Wallabies. He has admitted he found it difficult seeing the Lions celebrate after watching on from the sidelines.
"I very much felt like a third wheel, to be honest," Heaslip told Rugby World. "I'll look back on it one day and say, 'You know what, I played in two out of three of those Tests,' but at the time I didn't want to be there. I remember walking around and I kept my distance from the lads celebrating. I wasn't really getting into any photos or anything like that.
"John Feehan (CEO of the Lions) came over to me and said, 'You gotta smile, you're part of this, it's not just a one-day thing.' I think John was feeling for me a bit and he did his best to pick my spirits up. But it was a very tough moment."
Gatland's decision to drop O'Driscoll provoked widespread outcry with the Kiwi coach saying after their third Test win that he felt the reaction was "vitriolic". And Heaslip has said he was not surprised by the hostile reception that greeted Gatland's selection call.
"When I came home everybody was like, 'Well done on the Lions tour - but isn't it terrible about Brian?' I was like, 'Yeah, I feel for the guy'," Heaslip added. "Brian is on a different level to everybody else in terms of public affection in Ireland. He's like royalty, so I wasn't surprised at the reaction.
"We trained after the squad was announced on the Wednesday morning and that was my last session. I didn't have to go to any meetings. I pulled myself back. The guys not in the 23 withdrew to a degree to allow the lads to focus on what they had to do. We obviously supported the guys but we kept our distance because we needed a little head space too."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup