IAN MADIGAN WAS preparing himself for a trip to a GOAL refugee camp in south west Ethiopia when he got news of Brian O’Driscoll’s omission from the Lions squad to play Australia.
WiFi access was proving next to impossible so Madigan and Leo Cullen, his captain at Leinster, were relying on text messages from Ireland to make sense of O’Driscoll first Test match axing in 14 years.
“I was so disappointed when I found out,” Madigan told TheScore.ie. “I didn’t see it coming. Both Brian and Jamie Heaslip had played well on the tour. To have two leaders like them dropped for such a crucial game is an odd move. I couldn’t believe it.
Warren Gatland has gone back to his tried and trusted players at his moment of need.”
Madigan added, “In life, generally, when you are under pressure, you go back to what works for you. That is what Gatland has done. As a coach, when you are trying to turn it around, you tend to have your favourites.
“It’s sad for Brian and he doesn’t deserve to end his Lions career that way but, unfortunately, that happens in sport.”
The outhalf, due to his impressive form, solid goalkicking and backline versatility, was an outside bet for the Lions tour but did not make the cut. He contented himself with two starts for Ireland on their summer tour to North America and should be in the selection mix when Australia and the All Blacks come to Ireland later this year.
Madigan will return to Ireland, following his three-day trip to Ethiopia, in time for the Third Test. He remains hopeful of the Lions clinching the series but hopes they can show more in attack than they did in their 16-15 loss to the Wallabies last weekend.
He said, “Regardless of what team they pick, I’ll still be cheering the Lions on. I wouldn’t be mad on Gatland’s tactics, personally. It’s a bit one-dimensional. But that team still has enough quality to do the job.”
*TheScore.ie will be liveblogging all the Third Test action from 10am on Saturday.