British and Irish: Jamie Roberts hails 'incredible' Brian O'Driscoll

Last Updated: 03/07/13 5:52pm

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Jamie Roberts with Brian O'Driscoll on the 2009 tour

Jamie Roberts with Brian O'Driscoll on the 2009 tour

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British and Irish centre Jamie Roberts has praised Brian O'Driscoll for his reaction to being dropped for the series-deciding final Test against Australia on Saturday.

O'Driscoll, a four-time tourist, was the surprise omission from the squad to face the Wallabies at the ANZ Stadium - with the inclusion of Roberts one of six changes to the starting XV.

O'Driscoll and Roberts had been expected to revive their successful partnership from 2009 in Sydney, however head coach Warren Gatland has opted to go for an all-Wales centre pairing.

And with Jonathan Davies handed the No 13 jersey and Manu Tuilagi named as cover on the bench, O'Driscoll has been demoted to the stands for the decider.

However, rather than sulk about his omission O'Driscoll has shown his class by offering his support to Roberts and taking part in a training session for children at Noosa Dolphins RFC.

Jamie Roberts is back in the centre for the British and Irish Lions final Test against Australia this weekend.

"It was one of the most nerve-wrecking team selection meetings I have had in my career," said Roberts.

Respect

"There were a lot of tight calls, none more so than Brian's and I think it goes to show the kind of guy he is that he was the first to come up to me after training and say 'look do you want to do any extras?'.

"A thousand of others have said it before me and thousand others will say it again but he is one of the greatest players to play the game.

"Surprise is not the right word. Warren has made a lot of big calls and ultimately you respect the coach's decision whoever is picked and he has picked a team that he feels can win on Saturday.

Sky Sports pundit Stuart Barnes believes Warren Gatland has made a mistake by dropping Brian O'Driscoll for the final Lions test this weekend.

"He is an incredible player and an incredible asset to the squad. He has played some wonderful rugby on this tour but ultimately the coach makes the decision and picks the players he thinks can deliver and a lot of very good players missed out on selection for Saturday."

Having proved his fitness after suffering a hamstring injury against the Waratahs, Roberts is relishing the chance to link up with Davies in Sydney.

"Jon has been one of the best players on this tour and thrived in this environment," said Roberts.

"He is a quality player and when you put quality players alongside him he really shines. His passing game, running game and kicking game is spot on. It is up to me to come in, fit into this back line and hopefully create some space for our wingers and Jon and Jonny (Sexton) as well.

"To get that partnership with Jon again is exciting. Obviously we played together in the Waratahs game and having won a Grand Slam and the Six Nations alongside him, we have played a lot of rugby alongside each other."

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