O’Driscoll a victim of circumstance, believes Horgan
“Gatland has handed the Aussies a present greater than they could have wished for”
Brian O’Driscoll makes his way down the tunnel after the first test at the Suncorp Stadium. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Former Ireland international Shane Horgan believes Brian O’Driscoll is a victim of circumstance. Warren Gatland’s tactical approach to winning the test series in Australia seemingly convinced the Lions and Wales head coach to drop his most experienced player from the match day squad, selecting the Welsh midfield partnership of Jonathan Davies and a fit again Jamie Roberts instead.
“Brian has been penalised for the failure of a limited game plan that was poorly implemented last week,” said Horgan in the wake of this morning’s shock announcement. “This was demonstrated by Jonathan Davies, a quality player clearly on form, having no discernible impact on the game.
“The Lions backline is packed with talent but the quality of ball available to them made it impossible to construct meaningful attack plays.
“As good a player as Roberts undoubtedly is, he has been injured for a number of weeks and had not hit top form on this tour,” Horgan told the Second Captains.
Horgan, a 2005 Lions tourist, who won the majority of his 65 Irish caps and 170 appearances for Leinster alongside O’Driscoll, said the decision hands a significant advantage to the Wallabies ahead of Saturday’s third test in Sydney. It is also, he feels, an invitation to attack Davies’ outside centre channel.
“Gatland has handed the Aussies a present greater than they could have wished for. He has also increased the pressure on his own players greatly for no obvious benefit.
“The Lions can still win but it has just become much harder. I expect Australia, boosted by Brian’s omission, to attack wider and with more confidence while the Lions will attempt to batter the Aussies into submission. Although a disappointing use of the talent available to him, it might well be enough against this Australian side.”