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Off The Ball
Off The Ball

14:28 7 May 2021


Brian O'Driscoll feels that Warren Gatland may have "missed a trick" in his selection of centres for the upcoming Lions tour of South Africa. 

Gatland announced his 37-man squad on Thursday and there has been much debate ever since.

In the centres, the New Zealander opted for Chris Harris, Elliot Daly, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw. 

"Right now, I feel as though they missed a trick in the centres with a bit of creativity. I wouldn’t be overly excited if I was one of the outside backs with the prospect of some of the service that they may or may not get," O'Driscoll explained on Off The Ball. 

O'Driscoll also touched on how this selection may indicate the type of game plan that Gatland will implement.        

"I’m intrigued to see what the game plan will be," he said.

"It’s going to have to be a simplified, a pretty simple game plan and it will probably not look overly different than four years ago with a few tweaks.

"Then you leave it to heads up moments, when you make line breaks and that’s why the best players are exciting to watch. They’re able to play off script and they just look at what they’ve got in front of them."

O'Driscoll

Elsewhere, the omission of Johnny Sexton from the squad was the big news from an Irish perspective.

Gatland used Johnny Sexton’s bad luck with injury, particularly his head injuries, as the reason that he was omitted from the squad. For O’Driscoll, this is a convenient reason not to take him on tour when there is plenty of competition for the outhalf role.

“I think if he is trying to find a reason to leave him out, I think that is probably the obvious one,” O’Driscoll said.

“He is a 35-year-old, he has lots of miles on the clock, but yet there has been question marks over the last few years about his ability to finish games.”

O'Driscoll

O’Driscoll believes that Sexton has not don himself any favours with the manner in which he plays.

“Johnny Sexton is his own worst enemy at times,” O’Driscoll said. “He enjoys defending as much as attacking, and that is a rarity in a lot of 10s.

“He really prides himself on how hard he hits. He hits high, and I suppose you might argue the fact that it might encourage more head-on-head collisions, but he is one of the best defending 10s I have ever come across, certainly that I have ever played with.

“Comparatively if you look at someone like Finn Russell, he will make his tackles, but he is not going to try and hold someone up, or he is not going to try and smash them.

“Unfortunately, Sexton has picked up [a lot of injuries], and it has come back to bite him in the end.”

Related Read:

Gatland explains Sexton omission

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Brian O'Driscoll Bundee Aki Gatland Henshaw Lions O'Driscoll Otb Rugby South Africa Warren Gatland

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