BRIAN O’DRISCOLL has said that watching the British and Irish Lions seal their first series victory for 16 years was a “bittersweet” moment.
The dropped centre was left out of the Lions squad for the final game by coach Warren Gatland and had to watch on as his teammates won the deciding Test against Australia 41-16 on Saturday.
Writing in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, O’Driscoll (34) said: “The final whistle was bittersweet. 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. Other people write it for you.”
O’Driscoll also recalled the moment on Wednesday when he was dropped for the first time as a professional.
The Ireland international had been tipped to be named captain in what would have been his final Test for the Lions, however he said: “I got the tap on the shoulder on Wednesday morning when I was at the coffee machine. Gats and Rob Howley wanted to have a quiet word.
“I realised a quiet word in the meeting room was not a good sign. They were not about to ask me to be captain. That would have been said to me there and then. It was a blow.”
“Having seen others 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. The tour is not about you.
“For you, the decision is huge. For everyone else, you are just one component of it. You deal with your own disappointment in your own way, behind closed doors but publicly you have to realise that the bigger picture is not your selection, it is about winning the series.
“It is about doing the right thing for everyone, setting the tone around the lads, doing what needs to be done at training, trying to be positive when you have a big inner disappointment. ”
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.”