Six Nations 2014: Brian O'Driscoll Lions snub will give Wales' trip to Ireland an 'extra twist', admits Warren Gatland

Gatland chose to drop O'Driscoll for the decisive third British and Irish Lions Test which caused uproar in the Emerald isle

Warren Gatland admits the fallout from dropping Brian O'Driscoll for the summer's final British Lions Test will put an “extra twist” on Wales' trip to Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations.

The Wales coach also revealed he returned the Christmas card favour to Ireland legend O'Driscoll to extend the running joke started at the Lions' Downing Street reception toasting their summer Australia tour series win.

Gatland omitted O'Driscoll from the Lions' final Test in July, a resounding 41-16 win to seal the series, sparking uproar in Ireland and disillusionment from the veteran 35-year-old centre.

Leinster's 128-cap Ireland fixture later joked Gatland would not be on his Christmas card list, before actually handing the Lions coach a card at the Downing Street meeting in September.

After practical-joke prompting, Gatland said he eventually sent a card back to O'Driscoll - asking the Ireland midfielder to tell the Aviva Stadium crowd to go easy on him when Wales pitch up in Dublin on February 8.

"Donnacha Ryan rang me up and asked me to send Brian a Christmas card, which was a bit of a joke from the Irish boys," said Gatland. "So I sent him a Christmas card, and I wished him and his family well.

"I did ask if he had any influence to try to make sure that the Irish fans didn't boo me too much at the Aviva Stadium.

"I meant it as a joke, it's water under the bridge now and hopefully everyone can move on.

"I'm really looking forward to going back [to Dublin]. It's going to put an extra twist on the game, people are going to try to make something out of it as they always do."

Gatland has always struggled to understand the furore around him dropping O'Driscoll in Australia, and now hopes any lingering resentment will disperse.

The former All Black hooker gave O'Driscoll his international debut as Ireland boss, in his three-year tenure between 1998 and 2001.

Gatland believes he owes Irish rugby a huge debt of gratitude, especially in backing him to step up to international coaching aged just 34.

"It's easy for me to ignore it," said Gatland of the O'Driscoll saga.

"A lot of people are trying to make a big thing of the Irish situation, but at the end of the day I made my decision.

"And I just keep saying to people it's just a matter of opinion and that's what it is.

"It doesn't mean we didn't question ourselves and whether it was the right decision.

"People who tried to turn it into an anti-Irish thing: I'm incredibly indebted to Irish rugby and the opportunities they gave me.

"Starting off in the club I knew among the four regions, coaching Connacht and then gave me a chance as a 34-year-old to be an international coach.

"I look back and I'm incredibly grateful to the chances that Ireland gave me."

 

PA

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before