During the night we learned of the news that our beloved Brian O’Driscoll had been axed from the Lions squad for the make or break test decider against the Wallabies on Saturday. The Grim Reaper doing a great impression of Lions coach, Warren Gatland, broke the news to a stunned press conference saying:
"Picking this team was not easy and ultimately with several players available after recovering from injury the head overruled the heart in many selection decisions. It has been a challenging tour and we have had our fair share of injuries but we always knew that would be the case. Brian O'Driscoll is a great player and has had a wonderful career but for the final Test in Sydney we just felt Jamie Roberts' presence offered us something more."
BOD’s non-selection brings an end to his Lions career and will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in his mouth especially given that it was widely reported that he would take over as captain in the absence of tour skipper Sam Warburton.
The social media fallout has been scathing of Gatland with hashtags like #BlameGatland and #InBODwetrust currently trending. Understandable given O'Driscoll's reputation and standing in the game, but is the reaction a case of, as Gatland alluded to in his presser, a case of the heart overruling the head? Has O’Driscoll been dropped on form?
Remarkably, this is the first time in O'Driscoll's glittering 14-year career in which he was dropped from a Lions or Ireland test match despite being available and just the second test he's not been in the starting XV from the start.
Realistically we should hold off on our reaction to this until lunchtime on Saturday when we'll know exactly the consequences of Gatland's decision. It's certainly a bold move and Gatland will have no doubt been aware that this would certainly invoke a massive reaction on the back pages. If it pays off and the Lions win, Gatland will be a hero. If they lose? Gatland might well have written his own rugby obituary. Still, sport is a fickle mistress. If the Lions win their first series since 1997 on Saturday all will be forgiven and Drico will join in the chorus of appreciation for Gatland, just like everyone else.
British & Irish Lions team to face Australia on Saturday 6th July:
Halfpenny; Bowe, Davies, Roberts, North; Sexton, Phillips; Corbisiero, Hibbard, A. Jones; AW Jones (c), Parling; Lydiate, O'Brien, Faletau
If you need some reminding, here's an analysis of the Lions centre play from the two tests against the Wallabies so far.
Additional reporting: John Balfe