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O'Driscoll and Heaslip axed as Alun Wyn Jones gets Lions captaincy for Third Test

The legendary centre’s Lions career is over as head coach Warren Gatland makes six changes.

Brian O'Driscoll starts his final Lions match in midfield.
Brian O'Driscoll starts his final Lions match in midfield.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL’S CAREER as a British & Irish Lions is over after coach Warren Gatland dropped both him and Jamie Heaslip for the final and deciding Test against Australia on Saturday.

O’Driscoll, who was expected by many to lead the Lions in the absence of tour captain Sam Warburton, has been axed from the matchday 23. Jonathan Davies, the man who let Adam Ashley-Cooper in for Australia’s match-winning try in the Second Test, shifts into O’Driscoll’s vacated outside centre slot. He is partnered in midfield by the returning Jamie Roberts with Manu Tuilagi on the bench.

The other backline change sees scrumhalf Mike Phillips recalled to the team with Ben Youngs, the man who replaced him in Melbourne last week, another man who will be watching from the stands. Jonathan Sexton [outhalf] and Tommy Bowe [right wing] retain their starting slots as do fullback Leigh Halfpenny and Lions dangerman George North.

10 of the starting line-up are Welsh. Lock Alun Wyn Jones, trampled upon by Wallaby skipper James Horwill in the First Test, has the honour of captaining the Lions.

Alun-Wyn Jones captains the Lions in Sydney. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

There are four changes in the Lions pack, with Alex Corbisiero and Richard Hibbard coming into the front row. AW Jones is joined in the second row again by Geoff Parling.

The back row has two changes, one enforced by Warburton’s hamstring injury. Dan Lydiate starts at blindside flanker while Sean O’Brien comes in for the injured captain at openside. Toby Faletau displaces Heaslip at No. 8. As Heaslip is seen as a specialist, the back row call on the bench is for Wales’ Justin Tipuric.

Conor Murray is the only Irishman on the bench with Richie Gray of Scotland named as a replacement and hoping to be the first Scotsman to play a minute [or two] of Test match rugby on the 2013 tour.

O’Driscoll tweeted this reaction to the news of his axing.

Lions XV to play Australia: L Halfpenny; T Bowe, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; J Sexton, M Phillips; A Crobisiero, R Hibbard, A Jones; AW Jones (c), G Parling; D Lydiate, S O’Brien, T Faletau.

Replacements: T Youngs, M Vunipola, D Cole, R Gray, J Tipuric, C Murray, O Farrell, M Tuilagi.

- What do you make of the selections?

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Patrick McCarry

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