Forgiving and forgetting is meant to be easier in victory than in defeat, but as the great Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll considered his omission from the last Lions Test of the summer series in Australia as a trouncing of the most personal kind, the normal rules do not apply. The Lions may have won the series, but the Dubliner made clear today that he took no great pleasure in the achievement.
"Of course, I wanted the team to win, but I'll probably look back on some other things that I've won with greater affection because of the manner in which the series finished," he said. "I don't apologise for that. It's just my gut. It's how I feel."
O'Driscoll, who was dropped for the deciding Test in Sydney by the head coach, Warren Gatland – an act that provoked a firestorm of criticism throughout, and beyond, the Emerald Isle – recalled the moment he was informed of Gatland's decision.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: "I was making myself a coffee and I got a tap on the shoulder and Gats was there with Rob Howley [the attack coach] behind him and I thought: 'Two is trouble'. We went into the team room and it pretty much just came out that, 'We don't have a place for you this weekend'." Asked if he resented Gatland, he replied: "Yeah, there's resentment, of course. Is he on the Christmas card list? Unlikely."
By way of irony, the tour manager, Andy Irvine, told the same programme that Gatland stood every chance of being offered the opportunity to lead the next Lions tour, to New Zealand in 2017. "There is every chance," the Scot said. "These discussions will be taking place quite shortly. I'm only one of a committee of four, but I would certainly support it. I think Warren did a great job."
Gatland's ears were still likely to be burning, though, especially as a second experienced Irish Lion vented his spleen over selection in Australia. The No 8 Jamie Heaslip, one of O'Driscoll's fellow Leinster contingent who was also dropped from the final Test, said he was "pissed off" with the way things turned out, adding: "I felt very much like a third wheel. I didn't want to be there. I remember walking around and keeping my distance from the lads celebrating. It was a very tough moment."Reuse content