O’Driscoll backs Gatland for Lions job

Brian O'Driscoll and Warren Gatland

Brian O’Driscoll and Warren Gatland worked together on the 2013 Lions tour

Former British and Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll has backed Wales coach Warren Gatland to lead the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand.

Gatland, 52, controversially dropped the Ireland legend from the 2013 Lions’ decisive Test win against Australia.

O’Driscoll told the Daily Telegraph the New Zealander and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt are the main 2017 contenders.

The 37-year-old added Gatland’s style “is probably something that lends itself to the short lead-in time”.

The Lions face New Zealand three times in a five-week tour in 2017, with the first Test coming after six build-up games over three weeks.

British and Irish Lions chief executive John Feehan has said Gatland is the leading contender to take charge again.

The Welsh Rugby Union would again back their national coach, who was assistant to Ian McGeechan for the 2009 tour to South Africa that ended in a 2-1 defeat.

Gatland selected Wales’ Jonathan Davies ahead of O’Driscoll to partner Jamie Roberts for the crucial Test in Sydney three years ago.

Former Ireland captain and Lions hooker Keith Wood described the decision as “a terrible mistake”.

The Lions won 41-16 without O’Driscoll, but Wood stood by his comments.

O’Driscoll says he would partner Davies with England’s Manu Tuilagi were he selecting the team now.

“I will get absolutely lambasted in Wales for not picking Roberts but I think you have to have Manu in there and I don’t think you play him and Jamie together,” said O’Driscoll.

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