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Brian O'Driscoll Hammers Warren Gatland Over Lions Farce

Brian O'Driscoll Hammers Warren Gatland Over Lions Farce
By PJ Browne
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Already the subject of criticism for the calling up of six players to his Lions squad due to their geographical proximity to New Zealand rather than their ability, Warren Gatland dug himself into a larger hole on Tuesday.

Welsh quartet Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Gareth Davies and Tom Francis along with Scottish duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell were called up as cover by Gatland nearly a fortnight ago. Wales being on tour in New Zealand and Scotland in Australia was his reason for doing so. Dell and Russell have been to only ones of the six to see game time.

On Tuesday, as the Lions attempted to hold onto their two-try lead against the Hurricanes, Gatland opted against bringing any of the controversially called-up players off the bench. That was despite the players who had started the game obviously being fatigued. Russell briefly saw some time on the pitch as a six-minute HIA replacement for Dan Biggar. The replacement of Courtney Lawes for George Kruis and Leigh Halfpenny for the injured Robbie Henshaw were the only other substitutions made by Gatland in the game.

After the match, Gatland said that criticism of the call-ups had been a factor in deciding not to use his bench.


Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball on Tuesday evening, Brian O'Driscoll agreed the situation was a mess.

It absolutely is [a mess]. Warren Gatland has made a mistake there personally because he's not staying strong with his convictions.

He talks about protecting the 23, there's a chance that he hasn't protected the 23. Someone like Iain Henderson could easily feature this week. Yet he hasn't been protected because he had to go and play the full 80 minutes, granted he did spend 10 minutes in the sin bin.

He's gone and played a full game on the Tuesday. Say he's on the bench [for the second Test] and there's an injury in the first minute or two, he plays 78 minutes. That's 70 minutes on a Tuesday and then 78 minutes on a Saturday and he's talking about protecting Test players.

I don't see how that's good business at all.

O'Driscoll revealed that he has heard the six players in question have not felt part of the Lions camp.


From what I've heard, those players that have been involved feel no part of it whatsoever. He's done a disservice to them aswell because they feel that they're ununsed cannon fodder. I think they're just waiting to head home. I think they head home tomorrow [Thursday]. I don't think that worked.

You can't have a front row on for 80 minutes. When was the last time you had a front row on for 80 minutes? That's doing players a disservice, irrespective of whether they're Test players or not.

The former Lions captain questioned Gatland's submission to media criticism, something he found especially strange given that the 53-year-old said that he 'couldn't give a toss' about what the New Zealand press had to say about him


O'Driscoll added that he had been aware prior to the tour that there was a chance players from the Wales and Scotland squads could be called up. However, he had been expecting the players to be of a higher standard.

He even admitted that he did not know much about second row Cory Hill prior to his addition to the squad.

I had heard prior to the tour that this might be the case. I wasn't anticipating the quality of those players being brought in being to the standard that they were. I wasn't even aware who Cory Hill was, to be honest with you. I'm a pundit and I'm meant to know these things.

I haven't covered a whole lot of Wales in the last year. He's with Newport-Gwent Dragons, I don't cover them.

Guys like him, how does he feel? Is he able to go away and say that he's been a Lion? I'm sure he's probably been embarrassed by it. It's a terrible situation to find yourself in as a player.

As a coach, the backpedalling has not served him well. This will become a big issue and a stick to beat Gats with if they lose the series 3-0.

See Also: Hurricanes Draw Further Highlights The Bullshit Of Gatland's Extra Call-Ups

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