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Axing BO’D the wrong decision and took the gloss off Lions win – O’Connell

“Brian would have been one of the best players on the pitch. That’s just the way it is.”

'Ha ha, sorry. I thought you said your arm's broken.'
'Ha ha, sorry. I thought you said your arm's broken.'
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Updated 12.00

MUNSTER, IRELAND AND Lions lock Paul O’Connell issued a strong defence of his long-time colleague Brian O’Driscoll this morning.

O’Driscoll was famously dropped for the first time in his career before the Lions’ decisive third Test win over Australia on Saturday. A game which had been billed as the centre’s last in Lions red after 12 years and four tours.

Speaking with Ray D’Arcy on TodayFM, O’Connell pulled no punches, admitting a ‘bias’ towards the former Ireland captain while leaving no room for equivocation in what he felt about the decision to omit him from the 23-man match-day squad.

“I was shocked and disappointed.” O’Connell told D’Arcy.

“After playing so long with him, you end up being a bit of a fan. I wouldn’t say it took the gloss off it a little bit for me… but it probably did.”

O’Connell, whose own Lions career could be over after he suffered a broken arm in the first Test victory over the Wallabies, added that ‘it felt wrong’ to see a fit O’Driscoll wearing a suit on match-day.

“It’s a shame he wasn’t out there. Even going on the bus with him. I was injured and there were other guys resigned to the fact that they weren’t on the team – it just felt wrong that he was on the bus with the non-playing [squad] not in the 23. It just felt wrong.”

Now tipped to become Joe Schmidt’s captain of Ireland when he returns to fitness, the 33-year-old’s feelings on the subject of O’Driscoll were stoked up again when D’Arcy asserted that the nation’s record try-scorer ‘wouldn’t have let anybody down.’

Quality ball

“It wouldn’t even be a case of letting anyone down; Brian would have been one of the best players on the pitch. That’s just the way it is.

“I thought Brian was playing well. If you look at the first two Tests there wasn’t a whole lot of quality ball given to the back-line.

“Apart from George North, who had a ball kicked down his throat and created an unbelievable try there wasn’t [sic] any backs that stood out. So it’s hard to fathom the logic behind the decision, certainly from my point of view.”

Originally published 11.25

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Sean Farrell

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