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Wille John Urges Lions To Stop Complaining
7 July 2005, 8:12 am
The Lions management might do themselves a power of good if they were to take the advice of Willie John McBride who, in a TV interview urged them to stop complaining and concentrate
The Lions management might do themselves a power of good if they were to take the advice of Willie John McBride who, in a TV interview urged them to stop complaining and concentrate on levelling the series.

Since the debacle that was the opening Test, the Lions media pronouncements have been almost exclusively dominated by the reaction to the dangerous tackle that saw Brian O'Driscoll injured and forced to retire from the tour.

Initially, Kevin Mealamu as one of the two All Blacks involved, featured in the Lions' condemnation of the incident but in the past few days, it's been Tana Umaga who has become the main target of Lions' attention.

Eddie O'Sullivan - probably prompted by Alistair Campbell - was the latest to get in on the act when he was critical of Umaga, after Umaga had contacted O'Driscoll this week about the affair. O'Sullivan not at all happy apparently with the content of that conversation, Umaga although commiserating with O'Driscoll, failing to apologise for his part in the affair.

Mealamu's removal from the blame game is, according to an article in The Dominion Post, explained by another incident that ended with suspension for Lions lock Danny Grewcock. The Post's Jim Kayes writes. "Yesterday's attack is the latest in a sustained campaign against Umaga, who was one of two All Blacks involved in upending O'Driscoll in the second minute of the first test in Christchurch. O'Driscoll suffered a dislocated shoulder in the incident.

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu was also involved, but has not been the target of Lions vitriol perhaps because his finger was bitten by Lions lock Danny Grewcock, who was later banned for two months. "

In the lead up to the first Test all the Clive Woodward, (we have to presume Campbell inspired) talk was of the pressure the All Blacks were feeling, how this was the best prepared Lions side, how the Blacks had won nothing substantial since 1987 etc etc. He even urged people to beg borrow or steal to get to Christchurch because 'he felt something big was about to happen.'

And now this time around the week's headlines have been dominated by the incident that occurred in the opening minute.

The manner in which Brian O'Driscoll received his injury was illegal, dangerous and a terrible way for a superb athlete to end the Tour. Nor does Umaga deserve any credit for his failure to act as a captain should on the night when O'Driscoll was down and in obvious distress.

However, even O'Sullivan concedes that the action that caused it was not pre-meditated, he called it opportunistic and felt he (Umaga) knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. (again Mealamu escapes any censure from O'Sullivan).

There have been suggestions that O'Driscoll has been used to deflect criticism from, initially the poor Lions performance and then the Woodward selection for that game. Anyone who knows the Campbell modus operandi would support this theory.

This week there is no talk of 'best prepared' or 'line-out power' or 'pressure on the Blacks' . But still there is too much talk. And it might certainly be time to heed the advice of the man who have been there, done that and worn the T-shirt.

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