x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tough decision for British & Irish Lions to drop Brian O'Driscoll

Coach Warren Gatland names Alun-Wyn Jones as captain for third Test against Australia.

Alun-Wyn Jones, left, will lead the Lions in the third and final Test.
Alun-Wyn Jones, left, will lead the Lions in the third and final Test.

Alun-Wyn Jones has been appointed British & Irish Lions captain for Saturday's deciding Test against Australia at ANZ Stadium, but there is no place among the 23 for Brian O'Driscoll.

Jones leads the team in the climax to the series with Sam Warburton ruled out by a hamstring injury, but it is the omission of O'Driscoll that will cause the biggest stir.

Wales duo Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies have been paired in the centres with the former selected after missing the first two Tests with a hamstring problem.

"Brian was disappointed, but he appreciated that he was spoken to before the team announcement," head coach Warren Gatland said.

"It's the first time that a coach has ever made the decision with him in 15 years of rugby.

"It's not going to be easy for him, but he'll still be important for us in the next 72 hours in terms of his experience and leadership.

"Jamie is back fit and has been given the nod in terms of his partnership with Davies."

Gatland has made a total of six changes to the side beaten 16-15 in Melbourne last Saturday with Sean O'Brien, Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard, Toby Faletau, Mike Phillips and Roberts included in the starting XV.

O'Brien replaces Warburton at openside while Corbisiero returns after missing the second Test with a calf injury, resulting in Mako Vunipola's demotion to the bench.

Hibbard is picked at hooker with Tom Youngs named among the replacements, Toby Faletau is preferred ahead of Jamie Heaslip at number eight and Phillips ousts Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

Completing the six alterations is Roberts slotting in for O'Driscoll.

"It has been a challenging tour and we have had our fair share of injuries, but we always knew that would be the case," Gatland said.

"Brian is a great player and has had a wonderful career, but for the final Test we felt that Jamie Roberts' presence offered us something more."

Scotland lock Richie Gray, Wales flanker Justin Tipuric and England flanker Manu Tuilagi are the new faces on the bench.

The starting XV is made up of 10 Wales players, three from Ireland and two from England.


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