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South Africa 16:05 Australia

British and Irish Lions: Wallabies' Robbie Deans surprised at Brian O'Driscoll axe

Last Updated: 06/07/13 10:23am

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Australia head coach Robbie Deans believes his side's prospects of beating the British and Irish Lions have been boosted by Brian O'Driscoll's absence.

The Irish legend had been expected to make his farewell appearance for the Lions in Saturday's decider in Sydney, but Warren Gatland dropped the 34-year-old for the mouth-watering tie.

Gatland has opted for Jonathan Davies at outside centre and Deans knows the Wallabies' opponents have a lost a wealth of experience on the back of the decision.

Deans did not criticise Gatland's choice, although he believes some of the potential emotion from what would have been O'Driscoll's send-off has been removed from the encounter.

"It would have been a great sign-off for Brian wouldn't it?" he said. "He's a legend of the game.

"I've got no doubt he understands the nature of the industry and so forth. He's been around long enough to know that and understand that. He's been part of many Lions' series.

"It would have been a fitting send-off for him. He's also have perspective. He's a quality bloke. He'll be disappointed.

Experience

"I guess from our perspective it's a little bit of experience gone and a little bit of excitement in term of emotion from the occasion. Those aren't decisions that aren't made lightly.

"Warren's obviously given it due consideration and left with what he's put together will serve him better.

"We probably anticipated that he'd be there, but as I said on many occasions we haven't spent the time and consideration that the Lions staff will have."

Wales stars feature prominently in Gatland's starting XV and Deans believes they are the guys for the big occasion following their emphatic 30-3 Six Nations victory over England in Cardiff in March.

"I think it's unsurprising Warren has looked to his Welsh players. He knows them well," he continued.

"You've only got to look at that final Six Nations fixture where they responded at the final moment, so that's what he'll be looking for."

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