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Gatland yet to speak to O'Driscoll after Schmidt gives him wrong phone number

The Lions coach revealed that Leinster chief Joe Schmidt short-changed him on the centre’s phone number.

Communication breakdown: O'Driscoll and Gatland.
Communication breakdown: O'Driscoll and Gatland.
Image: David Davies/PA/EMPICS

LIONS COACH WARREN GATLAND revealed on Monday that he had yet to speak to Brian O’Driscoll because of a phone number mix-up.

The New Zealander was expecting to welcome the former Irish captain to Carton House last night for a chat in person. Attempting to reach O’Driscoll by phone, he said, was less than straightforward.

“I got the number off Joe Schmidt, he texted me,” Gatland told TheScore.ie. ”I spoke to him a bit about Brian.

Unfortunately, he didn’t put a ’3′ on the end of the number so I rang him for a number of days, trying to get hold of Brian. I was wondering ‘Why is this call not going through?’ then [Joe] said there’s not two 3′s on the end, there are three 3′s.

“I left him alone but he was hoping to come in [Monday] evening so I could have a chat with him.”

During the same briefing, Gatland ruled Sean O’Brien out of Leinster’s Pro12 Grand Final against Ulster but, following consultation between the province and the Lions medical chief, Dr James Robson, the prognosis is less grim. A brief statement from Dr Robson read, “Given the proximity to the tour we are grateful to Leinster for being able to assess Sean. He is in better condition than we thought and he continues his recovery at pace.”

Gatland check in on O’Driscoll during this year’s Six Nations campaign. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

10 Lions, primarily from Leinster and Leicester Tigers, are yet to join up with the camp on a full-time basis as they have club commitments. Gatland, admitting it was from a selfish, Lions perspective, said it was ‘a bonus that Saracens got knocked out at the semi-finals because it made two or three more players available’.

He added, “It’s hard because you want those players available but if one or two of those teams you’ve got a bunch of guys coming into a squad on a high and with belief. Often that is hugely positive to a team.”

‘Getting those players up to speed’ is the biggest challenge Gatland believes he, and his coaching staff, face once the Leicester, Leinster, Ulster and Toulon players enter the Lions fold.

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Patrick McCarry

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