O'Driscoll: "I think it’s wrong - it shouldn't be down to your location"

The former Lions captain gives his view on the recent call-ups to the touring squad

O'Driscoll: "I think it’s wrong - it shouldn't be down to your location"

2005 Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll speaks to the press. Image: ©INPHO/Michael Bradley

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has come in for some criticism recently for his decision to call up six players to his squad to shield his test team from midweek matches.

With the test series against New Zealand approaching, the Head Coach wanted cover to protect his test squad. 

With the Welsh and Scottish national teams based in New Zealand and Australia respectively, Gatland called up four Welsh and two Scottish players, due to their proximity to his Lions squad.

The decision has been criticised in the media and even by Lions legend Ian McGeechan, who described it as "difficult to justify".

Former Ireland and Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll is also unhappy with the call. Speaking on Thursday's Off the Ball, and asked if a similar suggestion was brought to him when he was captain in 2005, he said: "I wouldn’t have approved - that’s for sure. And I think it does devalue it.

"And I think judging by what happened on Tuesday , as well, how only Dell was the one that managed to get on the pitch - Warren felt the scrutiny of the press. 

"And he played a lot of players that normally wouldn't ordinarily play 80 minutes. He made them play 80 minutes because he didn't want to give cheap caps.

"I think it’s wrong - it shouldn't be down to your location it’s got to be about the form you’ve shown all year along and I suppose I’m happy for people like Finn Russell who deserves the opportunity. But you would be sick if you were Joe Launchbury, or Danny Care, or even Cian Healy because, I think you could do an awful lot better than some of the players that are there.

"It’s not their fault, let’s not be blaming them, but I think what it will boil down to is, if the lions win one test match, it’ll be probably glossed over. If they lose all three, this will become a huge aspect and a huge focus.

"So I think for Warren’s sake, and for everyone involved, they’ll be hopeful that they’ll get a least one," he added.

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