If an Irishman had been tasked with picking the Lions team for the final test, Brian O’Driscoll would have been one of the first to be pencilled in. And, judged on the general reaction to the Irish icon’s failure to even the bench, people of other nationalities would have done the same.
But it was Warren Gatland who had the call. It can’t be said the New Zealander wasn’t brave. Aside from not only omitting BOD, who was on the last of his four tours and had played in the two first Tests, he didn’t even give arguably Ireland’s greatest-ever a place on the bench. What’s more he gave a start to ten of the Welsh side he led to glory in the Six Nations a few months ago.
No-one can say the Lions still wouldn’t have won had O’Driscoll been included; but with the Reds finishing a whopping 25 points clear of the Aussies, winning the series, Gatland was entitled to ask what was all the whingeing about. He didn’t, of course – but there were several in the British press who did it for him.
A point that has to be made. This wasn’t O’Driscoll’s first kick in the teeth this season. When he looked odds-on to continue as captain of the Ireland team, he was replaced by Jamie Heaslip. That was a hometown decision, made by Declan Kidney, but somehow it didn’t get much of an airing last week.