British and Irish Lions 2013: Warren Gatland adds pressure to 'Welsh Lions' by leaving out Brian O'Driscoll for decisive third Test against Australia

A record-equalling 10 Welshman will start for the Lions in Sydney, but history suggests luck is not on their side

Warren Gatland certainly sprung a surprise this morning with the omission of British and Irish Lions stalwart Brian O’Driscoll in his starting line-up to face Australia in the deciding third Test on Saturday.

It is the first time O’Driscoll will miss a Lions Test match having not been injured, after he missed the majority of the 2005 series following a controversial spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Kevin Mealamu, and also the final Test in 2009 against South Africa.

Gatland has instead chosen to reunite Wales duo Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the centre, and the two make up a fifth of the Welsh contingent named in the side – a record-equalling 10 players from the land of the Red Dragon will start in Sydney – levelling the 1950 record when the same number of Welshmen were named by coach Leslie Osborne.

The record of players from the same country stands at 13, when an English dominated XV were selected back in 1888 on the tour of New Zealand and Australia.

Having seen the claims of the ‘Welsh Lions’ re-emerge having surfaced originally when he announced his squad selection, Gatland has decided to go back to his tried-and-tested players that he coaches as Wales boss.

It has been noted though that Wales’ record against Australia isn’t particularly good. In fact, it’s awful. They have beaten the Wallabies just once in the last 13 matches, with the sole victory coming at the Millennium Stadium in 2008.

In a Test series that has seen the two games so far decided by a cumulative total of just 3 points, it’s also worth mentioning that Wales have lost by three points of less in four of their last six meetings with the Aussies. Will the addition of Alex Corbisiero, Geoff Parling, Sean O’Brien, Jonathan Sexton and Tommy Bowe negate that difference? Australia have certainly held the upper hand in recent years.

As the series heads to its conclusion, the alarming similarity for any Lions fan to the last tour Down Under in 2001 will have them no doubt nervy heading into the crunch game. Having won the first Test in Brisbane, the Lions were defeated in the second Test in Melbourne before being soundly beaten in the final decider in Sydney, with the 2013 series following suit in an uncanny fashion.

Gatland criticised then-coach Graham Henry's decision to take a number of Welsh players - who he also coached at the time like Gatland - admitting that some of them probably shouldn't have been there.

"Part of the problem in 2001 - and I think it would be Graham's criticism of 2001 - was there were probably too many Welsh players selected," Gatland said in November last year.

"Some of them weren't probably good enough to go on the tour in the first place."

Will Gatland’s bold decision backfire, or will he take the credit for the first series victory in 16 years? For his sake, he better hope it’s the latter.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral