Axing still hurts Lions legend

Written By Unknown on Senin, 08 Juli 2013 | 23.40

Brian O'Driscoll was controversially dropped by Lions coach Warren Gatland for the series decider against the Wallabies. Picture: Philip Hillyard Source: Philip Hillyard / The Daily Telegraph

The pain won't subside easily for rugby icon Brian O'Driscoll, but he is able to appreciate the bigger picture following the most disappointing moment of his glittering career.

Having been dropped by Lions coach Warren Gatland for the decider - the only time he has been dropped in his 15-year career - O'Driscoll watched his teammates put on a record score against Australia last Saturday.

"It wasn't exactly as I would have liked it scripted, but you don't write your own scripts - otherwise you'd be scoring hat-tricks every week," O'Driscoll said.

"It was a tough week, disappointing, but we won the series and that's the main thing.

"One man's disappointment counts for nothing, there's a squad full of guys who are very, very happy, they've won themselves a Lions series and will always be remembered in Lions folklore, forevermore.

"One of the tours that matches '97, '89, '71 and '74, '13 is now a number that will be remembered.

"Not having an involvement on the final day does taint it a little bit for you, but it's still a series win and I played 80 minutes in the first two Tests and I had a big say in what happened.

"It's just nice to be able to say, I've been on four tours and thankfully I've been able to win one finally."

The Irishman said he would likely feel more grief over the coming weeks, but was heartened by the incredible outpouring of support following Gatland's announcement.

"I was fairly conscious of it, got a few texts, but a lot of Tweets," he said.

"You hear it through a few people, talking to a few guys back home, that made it a little bit easier, because I wasn't the only one that felt I should have been in the team.

"I haven't really analysed it all and thought, 'How painful is this?' You're just living it raw.

"I'll probably think about it more over the next few weeks when I've got a bit of time on my hands.

"If players didn't back themselves they wouldn't be able to get up week in, week out.

"You've got to think you're better than your opposite number, that's why you need to be selected every week, and that's the mentality all rugby players need to have."

O'Driscoll, who will likely become the most capped Test player in history when he retires next year, was highly praised by Gatland and Lions teammates for his reaction to the axing, immediately helping those who were picked ahead of him.

"I've seen different people, never having been dropped before, I've seen how certain people reacted over the course of time to disappointment. And you know there's a correct way, and an incorrect way, of doing that," O'Driscoll said.

"I wanted to make sure that I reacted in the best possible manner, to help the team out as much as I could."

O'Driscoll made his Lions debut in 2001 against Australia, and endured losses in that and ensuing series against New Zealand and South Africa.

Their historic 41-16 victory over the Wallabies last Saturday ended a 16-year winless streak.

"You go and earn your right for destiny ... you have to fight for it," O'Driscoll said.

"There's no great secret, we played better in the third Test and that was the difference.

"I don't think [the Wallabies are] as strong as the 2001 team that we played, they were World Cup winners in 99, it's probably in a bit of a developmental phase.

"By their standards they'll be disappointed with how they played."

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