British & Irish Lions
O'Driscoll reflects on 'bittersweet' Lions triumph
July 8, 2013
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll get their hands on the Tom Richards Cup © Getty Images
The veteran centre was widely expected to lead the Lions into the Sydney showdown following an injury to tour captain Sam Warburton but was sensationally axed for the clash and had to watch from the ANZ Stadium stands as the tourists claimed their first series victory for 16 years.
Denied a fairytale end to what was his fourth Lions tour, O'Driscoll admitted to being jealous of those able to pull on the world famous red shirt for the game but remains proud to be able to add to his already glittering CV.
"The final whistle was bittersweet," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "You do not feel as much part of it if you have not played, no matter what. That is just how it is. It was a massive mix of emotions: delight at being part of this historic moment alongside guys you have battled with, but tempered by not playing. It was hard and I would be lying if I said otherwise.
"You are desperately envious of those who are out there but there is not a sliver of ambiguity about wanting to see the boys win. That is non-negotiable: 100 per cent you want the team to go well. I have spent a lot of time with these guys. But thanks be to god, I am a series winner with the British and Irish Lions, albeit it did not finish as I would have liked it to. But you cannot write your own script."
O'Driscoll also recalled the moment he found out he had been dropped for the first time in his professional career. "I realised a quiet word in the meeting room was not a good sign," he said. "They were not going to ask me to be captain. That would have been said to me there and then. It was a blow.
"Having seen other players react in the past to being dropped has given me an insight into how to respond and behave properly. I have seen guys who are dead men walking on tours when they have not been selected and you cannot be that person."
He added: "Credit to squad players who have had to do this sort of thing before me, put on the defence bib at training and really mean it out there. It is not easy, keeping your standards up at training. I have said all along on this tour that the contributions of everyone will make or break it. That was true and remains true. Suddenly I was that person. You cannot say things one week and then behave differently. I hope I did my bit last week."
Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll donates training gear to St Gregory's College student Arthur Currie © Getty Images
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