Warren Gatland has named Brian O’Driscoll as the best player he’s coached during his time with the British and Irish Lions.
Gatland, who was speaking as part of the Lions’ Inside the Bubble Youtube mini-series, was reminiscing on his three previous tours in the camp alongside legendary baggage master Patrick O’Reilly.
The New Zealander was asked about the most impressive player he has coached during his time with the Lions, and he showed little hesitation in picking out the former Ireland outside-centre.
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“I saw him in 2009, having given him his first cap as a youngster coaching Ireland. I was unbelievably impressed with his development over eight or nine years and how mature he was, and how much he understood the game.
“He was sensational in terms of his rugby understanding and rugby knowledge. The way he prepared and approached. He’s probably one of the best players I’ve coached from a Lions perspective.”
O’Driscoll is clearly just one of many great players to have pulled on the jersey, but some players clearly made a lasting impression off the pitch too.
For Gatland, one name in particular stands out.
He continued: “Maybe on the same tour, probably one of the best players in terms of off-the-field stuff, even though he was a bit mad every now and again, was Andy Powell.
“Players loved rooming with him because he’d get up, look after them, make sure they were never late for meetings, make them a cup of tea and run around after them.
“The players from the other nations just thought it was absolutely brilliant.”
“The second test in 2009. That was so physical, but a brilliant series. So disappointing to lose as we should have at least drawn the series.
“Unfortunately we gave a penalty away on full-time. That happens in games, but that really sticks out for me, particularly because we’d improved as the tour went on.
“First Test we were a little exposed up front to start with. Then second Test was so tight and we finished strongly in that third test.
“That sticks out.
“Afterwards, I don’t think you’ll ever see a changing room like it. Just absolutely gutted.”
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