Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Brian O'Driscoll dropped for series decider against the Wallabies

Warren Gatland has made six changes to the side that faced the Wallabies last weekend, shocking fans by dropping Brian O'Driscoll, who had been widely tipped to captain the team in his last ever British & Irish Lions game.

With the omission of captain Sam Warburton through injury, O'Driscoll appeared to be the front runner to take over on his fourth Lions tour. Instead, a midfield change has meant he's not even on the bench, and Alun Wyn Jones will skipper the side.

"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," said coach Gatland.

There are a record equalling 10 Welshmen in the team, the first time since 1950.

"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."

It's a decision that has dismayed fans as the deciding Test was set up perfectly - should the Lions win it - for a famous send off for one of the greatest rugby players of his generation.

O'Driscoll was reportedly told before the team was announced, which he appreciated.

Elsewhere, Mike Phillips returns to start instead of Ben Youngs, and Sean O'Brien gets a start, along with Toby Faletau. Alex Corbisiero also returns from injury, and Richard Hibbard will start at hooker.

"Mike Phillips and Alex Corbisiero were 1st Test selections and would probably have played in the 2nd Test if not for injury. Richard Hibbard, Toby Faletau and Sean O'Brien have also earned their starting places.

"It all comes down to Saturday. Winner takes all. We know we can leave nothing in the tank and that only a complete performance will get us across the line," said Gatland.

British & Irish Lions
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 1 Alex Corbisiero, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 Toby Faletau
Replacements 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Makovina Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Manu Tuilagi

Time: 1:42
Credit: @rugbymedia

Posted by Rugbydump at 9:50 am | View Comments (103)

Posted in British & Irish Lions 2013

Viewing 103 comments

mot321123tom July 03, 2013 11:11 am

why o why o why Hibbard

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:15 pm

He's Welsh...

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Ruggernut July 03, 2013 9:37 pm

Scrummaging power I reckon. Would have personally stuck with Tom Youngs as he's been outstanding but I reckon they'll chuck him on as a mental ball carrying replacement.

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Canadian content July 04, 2013 2:24 am

srum wasn't youngs fault, mako's

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Ruggernut July 04, 2013 9:37 am

Oh no I agree. I'm just saying I think that is why he's been picked as he is a better scrummager than Tom Youngs. Youngs is better in every other aspect of the game though, hence why I would have stuck with him.

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Colm July 03, 2013 11:12 am

Joke.... Davies has been poor. Roberts has had more handling errors than any other player. And the team is playing poor rugby - Gatland is having a nightmare.

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dave July 04, 2013 9:04 pm

don't worry my friend, if the universe is a just place then Roberts or Davies will get hurt and Tuilagi will come into the game early

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tucktuck July 04, 2013 10:24 pm

if roberts get injuried and tuilagi come on we will be ripped a new arse hole ,, defensively they wont be great together

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dave July 04, 2013 11:43 pm

you underestimate the powers of a motivated Manusamoa!!!!!!!!

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mise July 03, 2013 11:17 am

When I read this:
"Instead, a midfield change has meant he's not even in the starting XV, and Alun Wyn Jones will skipper the side."
I thought, tough call, but at least he's on the bench.

He's not even on the bench?

Surely Roberts and BOD was the logical midfield combo?

And 10 Welsh in the starting XV. Well, that's that then.

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:03 pm

Apparently I have the same opinion as Hitler ??!?!?

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TotesMcGoates July 03, 2013 12:17 pm

Ha, that didn't take long!!

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Canadian content July 04, 2013 2:36 am

Wait till hears about who's captain!

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hagmiester July 03, 2013 11:19 am

Gatland has turned what could have been a brilliant tour for the Lions into an absolute farce by selecting poorly!

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Johnnosahn July 03, 2013 11:24 am

...what the hell? you thought roberts offered you more...HE HASNT PLAYED A TEST THIS TOUR, he wont be match fit and wont be ready for the high pace, BOD has practically run the show along with PoC ... this is ludicrous

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Whatevernext July 03, 2013 11:26 am

???????????? poor choice Gatland, this final test is about heart and BOD should have been starting or at least on the bench.

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TotesMcGoates July 03, 2013 11:46 am

The first thing that I noted with the line up is the lack of leaders in the side. Warbs and POC can't be picked for obvious reasons, but to take BOD and Heaslip out, both of whom have captained at the highest level, seems strange to me. All credit to AWJ who is a very experienced leader in his own right but I'm left asking myself, "Is one enough?"

I'm disappointed for O'Driscoll but I rate the two men selected in the centre. On the other hand, I'm skeptical about Tom Youngs being dropped. I think the line out will suffer as a result.

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Guest July 03, 2013 11:48 am

I don't know where this idea that BOD has been excellent in the 2 tests has come from. JD has outperformed him and with Roberts now fit it is logical that he comes back into the side as he gets you over the gain line which in turn will free up the outside backs. I would of put BOD on the bench however instead of Manu. A lot of negativity regarding the selection before a ball has been kicked. If we win the test/series on saturday then a lot of humble pie will be consumed i think.

Get behind the players and stop whinging, Come on the Lions!!

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:08 pm

Should I get your slice ready? I have a nasty feeling the Aussies are going to win this one...

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dave July 03, 2013 11:54 pm

drg you are probably right, I am a Lions fan but I have also picked the wallabies to win, I don't have faith in gatland to pick a form player over a welsh player.

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TotesMcGoates July 03, 2013 12:26 pm

I don't know about "out performed"... BOD had a significantly superior tackle count with none missed; Davies slipped up a couple of times. Running meters were about parity. I know stats only tell a part of the story... I don't think I'd say one was much better than the other.

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rugby08 July 03, 2013 3:38 pm

In what world has Davies outperformed BOD?

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Facepalm July 03, 2013 6:05 pm

On this tour, Davies has definitely outperformed BOD. But as is mentioned above with Warburton, O'Connell and Heaslip out it is a very dangerous game dropping yet another talisman. Should've been Tuilagi and BOD with Davies on the bench.

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Jimothy July 03, 2013 7:01 pm

He hasn't really outplayed him! In fact I would go as far at to say we lost the last test because of JD! As a centre myself I would always trust the inside man to make their tackle (especially if it's BOD) and it is clear that BOD is telling Davis to get AAC! He doesn't and the rest is history!

The Lions were in prime line out position towards the end and Hibbard threw it away! Another poor choice!

Roberts hasn't played a competitive game for how long?

The whole selection I think it is very very poor. So we have 10 Welshmen in the Squad who have never defeated Australia! I have to say that I think WG has ruined a perfectly amazing tour by trying to fill a SH victory gap in his role as Wale national coach and to prove that his way can win down there!

I really hope they win on Sat and if they don't WG has apologies to make to all the home nations!

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rufio July 03, 2013 10:19 pm

On Planet Gatland and planet WALES obviously!!!

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Canadian content July 04, 2013 2:38 am

Sorry was it BOD who slipped off AAC to allow the last minute try?

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flanker2712 July 04, 2013 12:47 pm

No. BOD got to O'Connor but Davies had been drawn in possibly thinking O'Connor was going to make it through the gap. Once O'Connor passed to AAC (Davies' man), Davies couldn't get to him in time.

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tucktuck July 04, 2013 10:35 pm

in the 2 TESTS not the warratah or any of those shite practise game ha jonathan davis out play brian o driscroll , jonathan davis has let him self down hugely in the 2 TESTS , stupid try , jonathan davis fault playing in front of brian messing up runs and hanging be hind him like a headless chicken the only timeJD had an influence when attacking the line was the first 53 second when he knocked that guy out ,

View Video

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gerrymentle July 03, 2013 11:54 am

What Gatland needed to do was change the game plan and pick players suited to that plan. He was always going to try and win this series through power and BOD voiced his frustration at being shackled by such conservative strategy. At the beginning of this tour one hoped for something different but now we see that was never going to happen, not because of the players but because of the management and coaching staff. The most costly error made on this tour was not to have Joe Schmidt as the Lions attack coach. The Lions would probably have the tour in the bag by now if he had been involved from the start..

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BenjaJ July 03, 2013 11:59 am

I think that to drop out BOD is a mistake, not compared to Jamie Roberts but compared to Jonathan Davies. BOD was more present in defense Davies and he is also better attack. And you deprive yourself of a great captain. Alun Wyn Jones was I believe captain with Wales once, and I think it's not enough for the Lions captaincy.

Gatland wants to play as he did with Wales, which explains the titularization of Phillips, who knows how to run the game in this system, and Roberts who is essential in it. But I think Youngs and Murray are far much better than Phillips, and Tuilagi is much more powerful and decisive than Roberts. For those who don't agree, I refer you to his performance from last November against New Zealand.

If he could he would put the whole Welsh squad. Faletau, Hibbard, Lydiate, Tipuric .... It lacks Cuthbert, fortunately.

Australia is gonna win this Tour, which is good.

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Cianrugbyfan July 03, 2013 12:11 pm

Heaslips leadership will be sorely missed even if his performances have not been brilliant. Faletaus performances have not been any better. Think it was a poor decision. Im a BOD fan but he cannot play 3 tests in a row any more but should of had a first half in him anyway. Apart from that it seems about right. Joe Schmit for the south Africa tour.

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:13 pm

Ahahahaha, Good ol' Gatland never forgets April fools does he....oh wait, it's July....

What a cock... As Hitler says (above) selecting Warburton as team captain was firstly the most worrying thing, and now to carry Jamie Roberts the entire tour with injury????

I honestly cannot believe he has included Jamie Roberts. The guy is a good player, but when was the last time he actually played???? We know he hasn't played a single game this tour, so to select him for what is now the biggest game on tour is lunacy.

Phillips back in? Lets hope that shocking performance in test 2 was genuinely down to a knee injury which he is well and truly over, because if he brings that shit into the final test, the Lions are going to be screwed...

Perhaps the only changes I really semi agree on are the back row, glad to see that get changed about, I've felt Heaslip has been asleep a lot of the time.

I actually disagree with the inclusion of Bowe again. With his injury he didn't look 100% last week, maybe he was testing the waters and this week he'll be much better, but he looks like he more reserved than normal...

As is customary these days (Horwill episode) when can we launch our appeal against Gatlands selection..

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:20 pm

*Lets hope that shocking performance in test 2*

Sorry that was supposed to be test 1 when he was moseying on back after being stepped...

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Guest July 03, 2013 12:14 pm

I didn't think O'Driscoll played well in the first two, though I think he's out performed Davies anyway. Dropping him off the bench is complete madness. I'd also be starting Tuilagi above Roberts, think he offers the same game and more. That said, I think Roberts and Davies work well of each other and will probably do a good job.

The biggest mistake for me is dropping Tom Youngs. His lineout has been the best on tour so far and he's by far the hardest working forward in the loose (apart from maybe Warburton in the second test who was everywhere). Youngs makes so many hits and slows the ball down so well that I think he'll be sorely missed.

8 and 9 seem to be big problems at the moment - noone is playing that well. Think Heaslip has been pretty dreadful in the tests, though (and I know many think differently) I don't really see what Falateau offers apart from not making mistakes. Enough to get in a Lions team? Phillips was atrocious in test 1, I thought Youngs was ok last week (though again many seem to think differently), get much quicker ball to 10 that Phillips. Murray actually seems to be the 9 playing the best at the moment if I'm honest.

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dave July 03, 2013 11:58 pm

I think the biggest mistake with the tour is that they didn't pick the best home nation number 8, Ben Morgan should be on tour, there isn't a number 8 with more power from a stop start than him besides billy vunipola and ben morgan is the better footballer

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:17 pm

"we just felt Jamie Roberts' presence offered us something more."

Yeup, I'm sure the Aussies are going to be terrified of a 'just back from injury' Roberts who they've had well and truly pinned in all the Welsh Australia matches...

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Dave1970 July 03, 2013 12:26 pm

some baffling & frustrating selections. Faletau played poorly early in the tour, was rightly dropped and is now back in having done nothing new.

Warburton gets injured so why not bring in Tipuric who has kept him out of the Wales side half the season & is a like for like swap?

Phillips was useless in the first test and everyone seems to agree that both Young's and Murrays ball distribution is better.

BOD hasn't been great but I'd still want him for such a big game. Given the complete lack of penetration in the centres in either test I can see why Manu's got the nod ahead of him. I'm not sure whether I agree or not but I can at least see his thinking on this.

Lineout has looked much better with Croft but then again Hibbard can't throw it as far as the back anyway so that cancels that advantage.
The only changes that really make sense are the front row ones, much as it's a shame to lose Vunipola & Youngs loose contribution they can't afford to have the scrums like last week.

Gatland is guilty of picking a game plan and then picking the players he thinks fit it, unsurprisingly a lot of these are Welsh. He should be picking his best XV and then finding a game plan the suits them. The way he's approaching it there is no plan B, wihch given that Plan A didn't work in the last test seems an error to me.

This selection really has taken a lot of the anticipation out of saturday's game for me. Don't get me wrong I'll still be cheering for Wales, but it would have been nice to cheer for the Lions.

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ConnachtMan July 03, 2013 12:32 pm

Not even on the bench?!!! So who will provide the leadership , we see what happened when POC go injured.......

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Ryyyyggggbi July 03, 2013 12:32 pm

I think the idea of a leader has been over emphasised in rugby. Your argument is flawed because you're justifying playing an average player who has great 'leadership' qualities instead of a world class player who has a small amount of leadership qualities (whatever leadership qualities actually means I'll leave to your discretion). I'm not trying to imply that BOD is an average player, but he is no where near his best anymore, he's past it. He no longer has the fitness, pace or physical stature that JD offers to the game, which would come handy with JR crashing over the gain line.

And for Heaslip, well.. He's been absolute garbage for 2 years. Faletau deserved a spot in every one of those tests and I'm happy that he has his chance to run at the Aussies.

Peace out homeeee skilletttt

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Cianrugbyfan July 03, 2013 5:25 pm

Faletau does have an advantage over heaslip seeing that he only playes 4 games a season. Ive watched him playing for the dragons and ive seen more pace and power in a retirement home then come 6 nations he becomes an average international.

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Canadian content July 04, 2013 2:44 am

If you do not recognize the value of leadership in a high stakes, intense game, then you do not have much rugby experience. Rugby is a game of ebbs and flows of emotion, you need to be able to look to a man who's seen it all before when you standing under your posts watching a convert. Someone who know's not all has been lost and will lead the way to getting what needs to be done, done. Not sure who that will be now.

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:47 pm

I agree in some ways with ryyyyggggbi (??) regarding leadership vs abilities...

I don't think you should pick a player just based on leadership qualities. However I think what BOD offers is both leadership, experience and massive ability. He may not have the pace anymore, but he is one hard hitter, massively committed, and makes some bloody good breaks and can definitely put people through gaps. A mention of his fitness... Yes true, he is no spring chicken anymore, so why not have Roberts (or not imo) on the bench to come on after half time. I personally think Manu offers more than Roberts!

I'm still baffled how you can select a player who's biggest effort of the tour so far was playing guitar with the manic street preachers for a final chance test....

If the Lions win, I'll be happy. However if the Aussies win, I think I'll feel a bit of "serves you right" sour grapes shit aimed at the Lions management....

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DrG July 03, 2013 1:20 pm

Interesting point:
Denis Hickey on BBC Radio 5 Live:"The omission of Brian, if you don't look at it emotively, you are basically saying he is responsible for the lack of penetration in the last test because the rest of the back line is the same. He has carried the can. It is a very emotive decision over here."

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Mastersa July 03, 2013 1:29 pm

Well its not the first time BOD has been dropped by a Kiwi. Umaga and Mealamu did it first ;-). Gatland, planned from the start to bring a Welsh team with him, only injuries and undeniable form of other nation players forced his hand. Notables left behind like Robshaw for an injured Warburton. I will be delighted if the Lions win but am certain it will only be because of the Aussies lack of squad depth for a 3 test series. It will have nothing what so ever to do with Gatlands selections and his blunt conservative game plan which, in itself, has done nothing to show off the ever improving skill set and game being played in the NH. He has shown no respect for the Lions ethos and in my opinion has been the worst ever Lions head coach. He knows he is going back to managing the Welsh from Sunday and this selection proves that this is all he cares about. I also surprised that he has not selected Catherine Jenkins and Tom Jones on the bench!

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dave July 04, 2013 9:02 pm

yes great idea, Catherine can keep morale up by getting stuffed at halftime and on the bench, that is the key to beating the aussies

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Sitting Bull July 03, 2013 1:30 pm

Im really glad that the Lions who defeated us in the first battle have not taken the field this time. Gunner Hibbard is a very bad shot and may put his own army under huge pressure. Colonel Custer has changed his name to Gatland but not only will he be defeated on the field, he will be buried in the press.

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Dave1970 July 03, 2013 1:31 pm

It's harsh if BOD is carrying the can for lack of penetration, the stats posted are revealing on his effectiveness, looking at the tackles made/missed stats it looks like he made a much greater contribution in defence than Davies and neither did well going forward.

I'm inclined to agree with DrG that Manu probably offers our best chance of breaking the Aussie line. Roberts is a big lad for sure but on his way back from his injury I don't think he's the threat Manu what Adam Jones has to say about Manu on the beeb

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ConnachtMan July 03, 2013 2:14 pm

Davies should be dropped, need proof, check this out:

View Video

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guest July 03, 2013 2:23 pm

I believe Davis was out of position for the AAC try. To be fair, BOD has been on the bad end of 3 penalties which should have gone his way. At least he can effect a turnover out wide. From all the build up games it is apparent that both BOD and Davis thrive on a penetrating number 12. Davis could not do this at 12 and both he and BOD were made to look ordinary.
Personally, I think the length of the tour as well as the large pool of players hurts the lions rather than helps. It gives the opposition the advantage by evaluating all the combinations, threats etc. this I felt was true during the tour of SA too. It also gives the home team the luxury of seeing which provincial players gave the tourists headaches (Brussow comes to mind from 09), although deans has not really exploited this.

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TWKP July 03, 2013 2:39 pm

Biggest call for me is Youngs (Tom) being dropped. Ok he didn't have the best game last week, but I think Vunipola should shoulder a lot of the blame for the scrums from last week. Man of the match in week 1, insane work rate, high tackle/ball carrying count, and best lineout of any of the hookers on tour....and Gatland drops him?

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dave July 04, 2013 12:04 am

it might not be as bad as you think, if you watched England's game against aus in the autumn tom youngs came on at the 60 minute mark and played light out, same with vunipola , these guys are maniacs in the loose coming on as subs, and in that game against Australia they would have won if they had just kicked penalties instead of going for the try

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Bunn July 03, 2013 2:45 pm

Gatland's Wales have never beaten any of the big three southern hemisphere teams playing this style of rugby, why does he think it's going to change now? If the Lions score a try from a passing move I'll be shocked. If he'd picked Manu there might have been an offload or two. How many of the Lions backs could score from half the length of the field?

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WelshOsprey July 03, 2013 3:00 pm

Haha time for gatlandball

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vannrugby July 03, 2013 3:08 pm

More muscles, less brain. It's the Wallabies they're playing against, not Italy (with all my respect to the Italians). If it's a defeat at the final whistle, it's gonna turn ugly.

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rugby08 July 03, 2013 3:40 pm

Gatland/Warrenball hasn't worked the last 6 times Wales have played Australia in a row.

Can't see it working now either especially with that team.

What a joke. I really couldn't care less now

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mrjmmlc July 03, 2013 3:48 pm

if youre gonna leave bod out at least have manu starting and bod on the bench
anyway seemes that the only two debatable options bod and muray out for phillips and davies. still the bod is worse since the man is a legend and is not even on the bench. but roberts and tuilagi had to be on the 23 for sure

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hubert July 03, 2013 5:00 pm

British&Irish Lion? more like Welsh Lion...

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Facepalm July 03, 2013 6:18 pm

I feel it's important to note that this is also very very harsh on Ben Youngs. Can't blame a half back when your pack is constantly going backwards.

Also very harsh on Heaslip. He was one of the few putting in the grunt in the last test.

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Adsy July 03, 2013 8:08 pm

ye, heaslip has been playing far better than faloteau, i thought he would have made the last test with out a doubt.
hes just being a stupid prick (gatland)

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bishbashbosh July 04, 2013 2:50 pm

I agree, I think Heaslip has done a lot more than Faloteau on this tour, but I think Faletau deserves his place.

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MunsterFan July 03, 2013 6:26 pm

Australia to WIN by 6+

Phillips to be LAZY ....(Just like he was for Folau's 1st try)

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MunsterFan July 03, 2013 6:45 pm

Brian O' Driscoll: Tackles made - 12. Missed tackles - 0
Johnathan Davies: Tackles made - ?. Missed tackles - 3 (try scored from one)

Davies the weak point:

View Video

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Old git July 03, 2013 7:13 pm

Albert Einstein said, "repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a sure sign of madness". Just a shame we couldn't have him as a lions coach.

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Facepalm July 03, 2013 9:39 pm

Well he has made 6 changes...

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rugby08 July 04, 2013 3:01 am

He will use the same game plan though.

The same one he has used 8 times against the Wallabies in a row now and only had one victory.

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Pipo July 04, 2013 6:26 am

And that victory could have easily been a defeat had the Wallabies not missed so many kicking opportunities that weren't that hard. They ended the game with a fwd playing in the centres! Still barely lost.

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bishbashbosh July 04, 2013 3:00 pm

With that theory in mind ... many losses could have easily been wins.

Last Saturday could have easily been a win if the kick went over, and Wales have hardly lost convincingly to the Aussies in recent times (14-12, 20-19, 25-23). Wales should have won the last three games that they lost in the dying moments, IMO if they had a player like sexton or Farrell to control the game at the end then they would have.

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rugby08 July 05, 2013 7:35 am

Well close isn't really good enough.

6 times in a row is a terrible record.

Gatland has learnt nothing from the defeats either.

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I_bleed_green_and_gold July 04, 2013 2:25 pm

well deans went with continuity and won the second test. Gatland has had whole sale changes each game.

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Adsy July 03, 2013 8:03 pm

If i was coach, this would be a side that I would put out for the warm up games against the club teams!

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ConorL July 03, 2013 8:06 pm

I've been trying to rationalise this decision for the last few hours and I simply can't. The whole "out of form" argument just simply isn't true. As a number of people have already pointed out, a quick look at the stats from last Saturday shows that BOD had a vastly superior game to Davies in defense, while they were both ineffective in attack.

To pin ALL of the blame for the lack of a cutting edge in attack on BOD is outrageous.
It's not his fault he was playing behind a beaten scrum and a pack without a single effective ball carrier (though both problems should now be fixed with the inclusions of Corbisiero and SOB), an inexperienced and out-of-position centre partner inside him, and a deathly conservative game plan that demanded they kick away every scrap of possession they got.

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Leadbitter July 04, 2013 8:04 am

Hi ConorL
You have hit the nail on the head. No, its not BOD fault that he has not had the quality and speed of ball needed to bring out all his incredible skills. So what do you do? You put men on the pitch that don't need those things (as much) to make ground. Essentially if you gave the ball to all the Lions centres stood still, BOD would make the least ground. With that in mind, and the problems the Lions have had all series with securing set piece, strike move quality ball, surely you select to counter that imbalance? Gatland plays a tried and tested (but now internationally redundant) bish bosh game plan - BOD simply can not execute it.
The fact that from the initial tour selection transpiring into this final test selection, has been the most self serving, conservative and nepotistic piece of despot coaching ever seen in the modern game is a debate to have after the final whistle.

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Dave1970 July 03, 2013 8:09 pm

I do really hope we win and I was excited about this weekend, I feel really flat now. Not because it's Wales + guests, but because players that have put their bodies on the line and earned places have been overlooked for reasons that are unclear.
The story of a Lions tour is meant to be a side developing with different players pushing for test spots including a few surprises, it shouldn't be that when the pressure's on the coach reverts to type and picks all the players he knows best with not much regard for what's happened over the last 9 games.

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UpTheLowEnd July 03, 2013 9:50 pm

Seriously couldn't have put it better myself.

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Ruggernut July 03, 2013 9:45 pm

Let's face facts here. If the Lions lose, Gatland will be strung up and never allowed near the Lions again and...ah well. It's not like the Lions win every series anyway.

However! If the Lions win, he will be praised as a genius and still probably not coach the Lions again.

How about we wait and see how the final test goes before berating/praising players. For all we know, Mike Phillips could have an absolute barnstormer and destroy the Aussies and George North could have a shocker. We can't judge these decisions until the fat lady sings.

That being said, I would have left BOD in. But hey, I'm not the Lions coach or an international Rugby player so who really cares what the heck I think.

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MunsterFan July 04, 2013 1:46 am

I think your missing the point, on stats alone BOD has played better than Davies, FACT, and BOD is a better leader.

The point of this is that the selection doesn't make sense. The coachs job is to put the best form players on the pitch and Gatland hasnt.

Also, IN the 2nd test he made 8 changes i think? For the 3rd he's made another 10! When was the last time you saw a team do that and win at the very highest any sport??


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rugby08 July 04, 2013 9:11 am

"It's not like the Lions win every series anyway"

That's a terrible excuse, this is the weakest opponent the Lions have faced in a very very very long time.

If anything this tour shows how limited Gatland is as a coach.

The 09 Boks reached their peak in the pro era
The 05 Blacks had quite possibly one of the strongest international squads in history.
The 01 Wallabies had won the 99 world cup and then reached the world cup finals in 03.

Gatland apologist are really starting to piss me off...

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rugby08 July 04, 2013 9:14 am

Not to mention the fact that Gatland had probably the strongest group of players from the home nations in the pro era.

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Ruggernut July 04, 2013 9:40 am

Fair enough. I'm saying, we can't really judge until the final whistle. Also, as I said above, who really cares what I think.

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Ruggernut July 04, 2013 10:16 am

Also, rugby08 I'm not defending Gatland. I think he's made the wrong decisions. I'm just saying we can't judge until the end of the match. That's all.

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rugby08 July 04, 2013 10:20 am

Actually, I think we can already judge that Gatland has made a balls up of selection and tactics on the majority of this tour.

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Ruggernut July 04, 2013 12:00 pm

That is true. It's a shame as I thought the Lions would batter the Aussies this year and seeing how close it's going to be is not what I had in mind. Had Wales actually beaten Australia in recent times I wouldn't be so worried but the fact that we've come close a couple of times and still not made it is the worrying factor. Ah well, the Lions will still have my support on Saturday.

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DrG July 04, 2013 11:24 am

I do get where you're coming from. Whilst I view this as a terrible decision to leave out BOD, there is no telling that the Lions will win WITH him and LOSE without him. They might still win on Saturday.

"It's not like the Lions win every series anyway." Not sure about that sentence though... You can't really excuse what I believe is a ridiculous decision because the Lions rarely win... But as I said, I see where you're coming from, it would appear a lot of Lions fans are already packing their bags and cancelling their "Lions win" t-shirt orders when there is still a damn fine game of rugby to play. - Although I have to admit, I am feeling rather deflated an 'cheated' by the team announcement...

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Thebar July 04, 2013 1:00 am

the team that should have played:
1. A Corbisiero
2. T Youngs
3. A Jones
4. AW Jones
5. G Parling
6. T Croft
7. S O'brien
8. J Heaslip

9. C Murray
10. J sexton
11. G North
12. J Davies
13. B O'Drisscol
14. T. Bowe
15. L Halfpenny

16. M Vunipola
17. R Hibbard
18. D Cole
19. R Gray
20. T faletau
21. B Youngs
22. O Farrell
23. M Tuilagi

The Irish players have been the most effective in defence as they try to hold the ball carrier up.. slow down the ball and the aussies can't play...
Shame Gatlanf is trying to make a statement here.. Wales can't beat the south

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Med-C July 04, 2013 10:15 am

Personally, I think Gatland made the call based on the Idea that Davies probably won't play as poorly with Roberts inside him.

I think that Davies either didn't trust BOD or didn't respect him enough to play along side him, as I think evidenced by some of the botched lines and Davies utterly pathetic defensive play for the Ashley-Cooper try.

As an aside: Utterly pathetic. That needs saying, repeatedly. Davies lost the game for the Lions. There need be no doubt of that.

I dunno if the emotive stuff about respect or tradition is anything more than nonsense here. I don't think Drico played well by any stretch and I'm certainly not sure that his inclusion would greatly effect the result. But I do know that with the players on board, on paper as it were, the Lions should be stuffing an Airline into the ground.

I reckon that the Lions are gonna be beaten by the Airline.

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DrG July 04, 2013 11:37 am

A lot of people are commenting on J Davies, and a few have briefly mentioned J Roberts. I think personally the attention is on the wrong person (Davies). Whilst I believe Manu should replace him, I don't understand why people haven't cottoned on, or at least have made minimal comments about the fact that Jamie Roberts, who (I must correct myself with earlier comments) ONE game and that was against a club side... 3 WEEKS ago!!! It has been nearly a month since he played rugby, no idea how long it has been since he played an International test, I guess the 6 Nations, so how can you throw him into effectively a final... ???

I think Gatlands made a balls up of the tour with inclusions of players like Shane Williams (what a joke) with the statement of "it's just for one game." Win or Lose I have to say I have a lesser opinion of Gatland before.

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DrG July 04, 2013 11:48 am

Oh I forgot to add.

If the Lions lose the media are going to descend like vultures on Gatland and you can bet your soul the interview question of the tour will be "do you think you made a mistake not including BOD?"

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Janie Britt July 04, 2013 11:54 am

In the second test there was a lack of line breaks from the Lions. Although the tackling was outstanding, you can't win on defence alone. I thought Sexton has played great but maybe there isn't enough creativity there to challenge the Australian line.The Australians have a lot of individual class that can turn a game around. I think that to win the game one needs to score tries. Sounds like a cliché, but cliché's are true.

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Mastersa July 04, 2013 12:02 pm

Just in case anyone thinks the media in the North are all surprised about selection, check this Aussie article.

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Schultz July 04, 2013 12:31 pm

The things I love most about all this, the ARU have a picture of Hogg and Maitland on the website advertising the lions tour, so I guess that they see them as the players that bring the most public appeal to the tour, for from the kick and chase Welsh lions plan.

At least O'Driscoll ran with the ball.

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sitting bull July 04, 2013 1:36 pm

Rugby is played by warriors-- how can they be led by someone not from their tribe.(country/continent) This is the second leader from the country of the long white cloud, both are headstrong and believe that they are invincible-- that is the nature of their upbringing in their nation.
The British Lions are being led by a donkey and a Kiwi one at that. They will always be defeated in battle until they realise that.

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Razor July 06, 2013 4:39 pm

you were saying... the lions will always be defeated in battle because they are led by a donkey and a kiwi donkey at that.

Is that right? Goes to show how much you know. Eat the humble pie my friend.

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bishbashbosh July 04, 2013 3:20 pm

Lets just wait until the final whistle before you bang on about how bad this tour has gone. Obviously everyone is going to have an opinion on what the test selection should be, and some opinions show why you don't have a job in professional rugby coaching. I agree with most of you that Tom Youngs, Conor Murray and BOD will feel hard done by, but I think we should congratulate Gatland and the rest of the coaching staff on picking the players that they think are best suited for the job in hand - and not picking a side to keep all the media and fans happy because our favourite players are involved.

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themull July 04, 2013 5:20 pm

To be honest even if the lions do win, I think something has been taken away from it, due to the fact that Gatland has gone against what the lions should be about..that is, by and large picking the best players creating a gameplan for them..Gatland has simply chosen his Welsh favourites over guys who have played better, not only on tour but for much of the season too....

There's pretty much no reason why Youngs should be dropped from hooker..the change at 8 isn't bad considering neither has played that well on tour..Phillips at scrum half is wrong because both Youngs and Murray have shown more, especially last week and I still can't get over Phillips not trying to tackle Genia in the first test..(if his knee was so bad he couldn't sprint then there's no way he should've been on the field)..

In reality it should be BOD and Manu in the centers...maybe I'm missing something but Manu and bod have definitely been the best centers on tour in both defence and attack...before he got injured Roberts was having a mediocre season and a poor tour showing...if Gatland was set on dropping BOD then it should be Manu who took his place..

Instead, and maybe it was unintentional or sub consciously, but it's obvious that gatland has just simply gone for his safety net with the welsh boys..

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Kiwi In Germany July 04, 2013 9:13 pm

I'm of the opinion that BOD should have been on the bench. That his style was a nice contrast to Roberts. And that if they needed to change tack in the second half he'd be the man to do it. BOD's experience and leadership quality is something that could be invaluable off the bench in a tight final.

Anyway they thought differently. If they smash the Wallabies will they prove themselves to the naysayers? Results speak louder than words. Though I found this comment interesting from Gatland...

"I'll go back to the UK after this and say: 'Did I make the decision because I believe it's the right decision or did I make it because it was politically right?' I have to put hand on my heart and say it's the right rugby decision. I would hate to think we had made calls to avoid criticism or for reasons of public popularity."

It must be one of the hardest things to do to bring all these players from different countries together for 3 tests. To pick the players you think are best without bias and yet also without bowing down to diplomatic pressure.

Anyway just my 2 cents.

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kadova July 06, 2013 9:22 pm

I have not watched the match yet, but the Lions won, and won well. Will have to check the role of the Lions centres in this win.

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lee July 07, 2013 11:55 pm

Wow...i guess everyone can eat their slice of humblepie now. I love how all these halfwits sit on a forum site, possibly all they've ever done is sit and watch rugby every so often. It should be obvious to anyone that having a specialist 12 is important. Tuilagi, BOD and Davis are all outside centres. You cant shove them into 12 and expect them to perform flawlessly. dropping BOD turned out to work, but i bet people will come up with more excuses. Yes he's a great player, wonderful career but he's no longer the epitome of a modern rugby player. Beautiful play and skills isn't everything anymore. Also, leadership isn't just about one man, its about a collective group knowing what they have to do. The captain communicates with the ref, but everyone is part of leading. You don't choose a player who's been having a relatively quiet tour just for his leadership. That's coming from a captain. And before anyone makes a "hilarious" comment, a captain being given an honorary award for services to the team(ie a great captain), and I've seen him lead, he's brilliant. Gatland prived everyone wrong.

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Mastersa July 08, 2013 1:47 pm

Was I the only one who noticed the crumbling Aussie pack (from minute 3). The game was clearly won up front with a couple of tries from the backs at the death when the dejected Aussies, with nothing on bench had given up. Dropping BOD had nothing to do with win, in fact there is no evidence that he would not have been more creative behind that pack, which didn't take a backward step the whole game.
Just the fantastic performance of the back row (Faletau, O'Brien and Lydiate/Tipuric)alone is testimony to Gatlands bad calls in test 1 and 2. Philips in again instead of inform Murray??? The only difference between BOD, Davis and Roberts having a quiet tour by their standards is leadership. There was nothing else to separate them. He at least deserved to be on the bench. As a captain or simple supporter it was easy to recognise how disenfranchised the fans and undoubtedly some non-Welsh players were as a result of Gatlands team selections. We won, im delighted, but against the poorest Aussie side I have ever seen. Beautiful over bosh or a blend is better.

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nr1bacc July 09, 2013 11:04 am

I didnt want to say anything at the time partly because it was all so very heated but you have to look at Gatlands record:
1) Lee Byrne - Remember him? Possibly still the best welsh qualified full back - but a yellow card machine - dropped
2) James Hook - sublimely talented and creative fly/inside centre possibly the best welsh fly in years - the odd rush of blood to the head the odd yellow card- dropped
3) Martyn Williams - the flanker that gave Gatland his career in wales - started giving silly penalties and picking up cards- dropped
4) AWJ - yellow card - publicly humiliated and told he would be dropped if he didnt sort his shit out. he did and kept.

BOD - Greatest living Irishman (if you believe this forum) didn't understand the breakdown and was in danger of getting a yellow - dropped

look guys Gatland is consistent if you have a chance of a yellow you will not be selected. One reason the lions won is because they played 240 minutes of rugby with 15 men on the park.

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