British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland admits Brian O'Driscoll is disappointed
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 03/07/13 8:58am
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland admitted Brian O'Driscoll was "disappointed" to be dropped for the series decider against Australia on Saturday.
O'Driscoll was the surprise omission from the starting XV to face the Wallabies at the ANZ Stadium, with Gatland having made six changes in total.
O'Driscoll had been a contender for the captaincy heading into the final Test after Sam Warburton was ruled out and was expected to be reunited with Jamie Roberts in the midfield.
However although the fit-again Roberts does return, he partners Jonathan Davies - with Manu Tuilagi's inclusion meaning O'Driscoll drops out of the squad completely.
The decision means O'Driscoll's Lions career comes to an unhappy end, with the 34-year-old Irishman now very unlikely to add to 18 appearances for the tourists.
"Obviously he was pretty disappointed as anyone is disappointed but he appreciated the fact that he was spoken to before the announcement," Gatland said.
"It's the first time any coach has ever had that decision with him in 15 years of rugby so it's not easy for that to be the first time.
"He's still going to be very important to us in the next 72 hours in terms of his experience and leadership.
"Jamie is back fit and has been given the nod in terms of his partnership with Davies."
O'Driscoll took to Twitter to express his disappointment at his omission.
"Obviously totally gutted at being left out for deciding Test but all efforts go into preparing the boys to see it through. #seaofred," he tweeted.
Gatland claims that O'Driscoll's leadership abilities didn't come into the selection equation despite the loss of Warburton and Paul O'Connell through injury.
"It wasn't about leadership, it was about picking what we thought was the best team and we went and did that," he added.
"We then went through and the next question was who we felt could do the best job in terms of captaining and that's where Alun-Wyn comes in.
"Alun-Wyn will lead from the front and has been outstanding in the lead-up games. He's been one of the first names on the sheet for the first two Tests.
"A little bit of pressure will be taken off him because Geoff Parling will call the lineouts. He's been an important part of that engine room."