Oh my BO'D

Sky Sports rugby union writer Tony Curtis looks back at the British and Irish Lions career of legendary centre Brian O'Driscoll

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 04/07/13 6:27pm

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In a final twist to his long and distinguished career with the British and Irish Lions, Brian O'Driscoll is now unlikely to pull on the famous red jersey again.

It is the latest cruel blow during his 12-year association with the tourists from the home union - however it is arguably the one that will hurt the most.

The Ireland centre has been through nearly every emotion representing the British and Irish Lions since the 2001 tour of Australia. There is one thing that had eluded O'Driscoll, though, and it is a series triumph.

The 34-year-old has tasted defeat in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but he will now not get the chance to erase these memories after he was brutally axed for the first time in his career.

The move to drop him for Saturday's decider against the Wallabies at the ANZ Stadium came out of the blue, with O'Driscoll having been the favourite to replace the injured Sam Warburton as captain.

O'Driscoll might not have the same turn of pace that he was blessed with when he first burst on the scene, however just because he isn't making searing 50-yard breaks doesn't mean he is any less of a quality player.

His defensive work has been exemplary on the tour. No Lion has made more tackles in the first two Tests - while he has still made four clean breaks, seven offloads and scored three tries in his four appearances.

And his experience had been vital, with O'Driscoll leading the side out against the Western Force and the Combined Country XV.

Brian O'Driscoll

Lions tours: 4 (Australia 2001, New Zealand 2005, South Africa 2009, Australia 2013)
Lions debut: v Western Australia (June 8, 2001)
Lions appearances: 18
Lions tries: 9
Lions Test debut: v Australia (June 30, 2001)
Lions Test appearances: 8
Lions records: Only the third player in 125 years to be named on four tours; holder of the longest Lions career, with 4,382 days between his first and last Test.

However when the squad was officially confirmed, O'Driscoll wasn't even on the bench. Alun-Wyn Jones was handed the captaincy, while Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies were selected in the centres and Manu Tuilagi was named on the bench.

Heartbreaks

The decision means that Lions fans are likely to have seen the last of O'Driscoll in the red shirt - unless there is to be a Shane Williams-esque recall in New Zealand in 2017.

O'Driscoll's Lions career had started off so well with the Leinster man scoring one of the all-time great tries in the first Test victory over Australia in 2001, while he then showed off his class as he had a hand in the opening try in the second Test.

However, from there on in O'Driscoll has suffered a series of heartbreaks.

The wheels came off for the class of 2001 as Australia hit back in emphatic fashion to win the second Test before going on to edge the decider in Sydney.

The Lions were understandably devastated but that had nothing on the agony - both physically and mentally - O'Driscoll would suffer four years later.

Having been named as tour skipper by Sir Clive Woodward, O'Driscoll was brutally taken out in the opening minute of the first Test. O'Driscoll was left with a serious shoulder injury after being on the end of a two-man spear tackle from New Zealand captain Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu.

The All Blacks duo were cleared at the time, however the IRB later condemned the incident after previously unseen footage emerged.

The injury ruled O'Driscoll out of the rest of the tour, but he returned to the fray four years later for the trip to South Africa.

O'Driscoll's partnership with Jamie Roberts was among the highlights of the trip, with the duo working together to great effect. Wales centre Roberts was the brute force, while his Irish counterpart exploited the spaces created.

Despite the best efforts of the duo, the Lions narrowly lost the opening two Tests - with a head injury ruling O'Driscoll out of the third Test victory.

O'Driscoll would be back, though, and he became only the third player in 125 years to be selected for four Lions tours after his inclusion in the current squad.

He would lead the Lions in two of the tour games and was named at outside centre for the first two Tests - with the series left finely poised at 1-1 heading to Sydney.

O'Driscoll, though, has been denied the perfect swansong to his career with the legend set to now watch the decider from the stands.

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