British and Irish Lions 2013: Australia coach Robbie Deans pleased Lions have lost Brian O'Driscoll's experience

Australia were planning O'Driscoll strategy but have also made big call in dropping Hooper


The Wallaby coach, Robbie Deans, made short work of a number of interesting subjects: he was in no mood to discuss reports that the World Cup-winning South Africa coach Jake White was about to relieve him of his job and dismissed out of hand Warren Gatland's assertion that the Australians might not have the emotional wherewithal to clinch the Test series against the Lions here on Saturday. He was much more interested in talking at length about two of rugby's modern greats.

Brian O'Driscoll was one of them. Deans admitted that he had been concocting his strategy for the third and deciding match on the basis that the Irish centre would be in the tourists' starting line-up, as he had been on every other occasion, fitness willing, since 2001. "That was our anticipation," he admitted, "and from our standpoint it's a little bit of Lions experience gone. Naturally, it would have been a great sign-off for Brian because he's a legend of the game.

"He'll be disappointed that he's not playing, but those decisions aren't made lightly and Warren will have given it due consideration. I also have no doubt that Brian understands the nature of the industry – he's been around long enough – and that he'll have perspective, because he's a quality bloke. In the end, Warren has put together something he thinks will serve him better.

"The reaction to these big selection decisions, the great interest in them, doesn't make it any easier, but that's what we're tasked to do – to clear the track and find a way through… find a way to succeed. It's not about doing the 'right thing' but about doing what's right. And of course, not everyone will agree on it. But we get a brief time in this game and we want to make the most of it. That's what Warren is looking to do. It's a totally understandable decision from him."

If Deans has not quite had an "O'Driscoll moment" in this series, he has still made a harsh call for this Test by dropping the bright young New South Wales flanker Michael Hooper, who grew increasingly influential towards the end of last weekend's gripping contest in Melbourne, and recalling the 110-cap groundhog flanker George Smith, who will play his first Test in almost four years, just eight days shy of his 33rd birthday.

Not that Deans felt the need to don his hair shirt before deciding on the change. "It was straightforward," he said serenely. "George has served Australian rugby enormously in the past and it was pretty evident that he would have been a part of this campaign from the start if he hadn't had the misfortune to suffer an injury just prior to the squad announcement in May.

"He was obviously keen to be involved because his recovery was remarkable. He's clearly a sly trainer. He pretends he doesn't enjoy training, but to have had the longevity he's enjoyed, there must be more to him than good genetics. He's also a master of the disciplines."

Deans may have felt sorry for Hooper, who was saddled with the unenviable task of playing out of position at centre for the second half of the Brisbane Test (conceding only one try in the process) before making a full contribution in his chosen role last weekend. If so, he did not show it for a second. Rather like Gatland, his fellow New Zealander, his cruelty to an individual was driven by a desire to be kind to his team.


Get Adobe Flash player


"Michael has had the privilege to play two Tests against the Lions and he'll get the opportunity to play a third as well [off the bench]. His involvement might be defining. These blokes are beginning to understand that it's not about what you own, it's about what you contribute to a group. It's about helping the Wallabies do well on an important occasion."

Smith, like O'Driscoll, featured in the previous Wallaby-Lions extravaganza on these shores, a dozen years ago. He said the final Test of that series, played in this city and won by the home side after a bitter struggle, was "very much a blur", adding: "I was very young and I didn't know the magnitude of the Lions, but I was led extremely well by our senior players."

Those players included some of the titans of the green and gold jersey: the wing Joe Roff, the outside-half Stephen Larkham, the scrum-half George Gregan and – most of all – the lock John Eales, just about the most gifted individual of this rugby age. On Saturday, it will be Smith who takes on the responsibility of guidance. On balance, the Lions would rather he was watching from the stand, with a cold stubby in his hand.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape