O'Driscoll axe was 'hard to fathom'
July 11, 2013
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll get their hands on the Tom Richards Cup in Sydney © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions lock Paul O'Connell has recalled the 'shock and disappointment' he felt following Brian O'Driscoll's shock axing for the recent series-decider against Australia.
Lions coach Warren Gatland was subjected to widespread criticism after dropping the veteran centre for the Sydney showdown and but was vindicated as his side went on to record a stunning 41-16 win to claim their first series victory in 16 years.
The squad - including O'Driscoll - were united behind their coach at the time but following their return, O'Connell, who saw his tour ended prematurely by a broken arm, has become the first player to question Gatland's actions.
Speaking to Irish radio station Today FM, he said: "I was shocked and disappointed. I thought Brian was playing well. If you look at the first two Tests there wasn't a whole lot of quality ball given to the backline.
"Apart from George North, who had a ball kicked down his throat and created an unbelievable try, there weren't any backs that stood out. So it's hard to fathom the logic behind the decision, certainly from my point of view."
He added: "After playing so long with him you end up being a bit of a fan. I wouldn't say it took the gloss off it a little bit for me, but it probably did.
"It's a shame he wasn't out there. Even going on the bus with him; I was injured and there were other guys resigned to the fact that they weren't on the team. It just felt wrong that he was on the bus with the non-playing squad, not in the 23."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter