British and Irish Lions: Shock at Brian O'Driscoll's omission
Stuart Barnes says dropping Brian O'Driscoll is a mistake. What else do the Sky Sports pundits think?
Last Updated: 04/07/13 8:15am
After losing in Melbourne last week, head coach Warren Gatland has put his head on the line and made some unpopular decisions. No swansong for Brian O'Driscoll who won't even be on the bench, Alun-Wyn Jones is the new skipper and 10 Welshmen will be in the starting line-up.
What do the Sky Sports pundits think?
Stuart Barnes (Lions tour 1993)
It's all about leadership. The Lions had Paul O'Connell, O'Driscoll and Sam Warburton. Now they have no real leadership. Gatland is saying you pick your best 15 and then work out who leads the team.
That is not how it is and it's not how New Zealand picked Richie McCaw. The captain is the crucial man in this team.
Looking at the Lions team, I'm really concerned if it's tight and the heat comes on after 60-65 minutes. There won't be anyone to go to. Australia have captain James Horwill and scrum-half Will Genia - who do the Lions have?
David Campese (Wallabies wing legend)
The changes have occurred because Gatland has panicked a bit. Six changes going into 80 minutes of rugby is a lot and the more you change, the harder the game is.
The Wallabies have really got the same side and they've got the momentum. O'Driscoll is a great player but who will be the leaders for the Lions on Saturday? There isn't anybody anymore.
The Welsh won the Grand Slam (in 2012) and those guys know what they're doing but where's the X-Factor? Who will do something different?
The big factor last Saturday in Melbourne was the Aussies tried things and that's how they got the try. The Lions went out there and just defended. You have to make the advantage line and that's where the Lions will struggle if they don't have anything up their sleeve.
Miles Harrison (Sky Sports commentator)
I was surprised - it must have been a very difficult selection and also with the announcement. Everyone knows how much the Lions means to O'Driscoll and how much he's given over the years and how much he wanted to be part of a winning team.
Equally it must have been a tough and very difficult moment for Gatland and, as he said in the press conference, it was something nobody has had to do in the last 15 years, telling him it was all over at the end of his career.
Gatland will have been also thinking 'I have to do what's correct and not let my heart rule over my head'. We'll find out if it was the right thing to do on Saturday but at least the coach has been true to his own principles and O'Driscoll will respect that.
Getting (England prop) Alex Corbisiero in is massive and the Lions management will be delighted to have him back. There's also the introduction of the added weight and size of Richard Hibbard - that's a big positive when it comes to the scrum and makes it a better unit.
Pat Sanderson ( former England backrower)
It shows that Warren Gatland is not afraid of making a tough decision. On balance I like the look of Davies and Roberts in that centre partnership. They defend together particularly well and they do it week in and week out which I think is absolutely crucial when you are in a pressure situation.
But the whole day was set up for Brian O'Driscoll; for him to go out as perhaps a winning Lion which would have been wonderful to see. But it is not to be and I am sure knowing the type of man he is he will respond really well and continue to be a great influence heading into the weekend.
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