Brian O’Driscoll has been dropped from the Lions line-up for the third Test against the Wallabies.
Brian O’Driscoll has been dropped from the Lions line-up for the third Test against the Wallabies. John Mccutcheon

Lions make six changes to line-up

RUGBY UNION: Jamie Roberts says the British and Irish Lions have not lost their self-belief despite a raft of changes to their line-up for Saturday's third Test against Australia in Sydney.

Coach Warren Gatland made the shock decision yesterday to drop veteran centre Brian O'Driscoll and replace him with Roberts for the series decider in Sydney.

O'Driscoll had been tipped to deputise for injured captain Sam Warburton (hamstring) but was omitted from the 23.

Lock Alun-Wyn Jones will lead the team on to ANZ Stadium.

Gatland made six changes to the side that was pipped 16-15 in Melbourne on the weekend.

Sean O'Brien has been named at No.7 for Warburton, and scrumhalf Mike Phillips returns from a knee injury in place of Ben Youngs.

Alex Corbisiero and Richard Hibbard come into the starting front row, and Toby Faletau will make his Lions Test debut at No.8.

At the team announcement in Noosa yesterday afternoon, Roberts said despite the changes the Lions still had the experience to win their first Test series since 1997.

"A lot of these players have beaten Australia. A lot of these players beat Australia a couple of weeks ago," he said.

"Last weekend could have gone the other way. It was close and there are very, very fine margins at this level.

"IT'S not just a battle of physicality - it's a battle of mentality.

"The Australian attitude has been quick taps and quick throw-ins, to play the game at tempo to try and catch you out. We won't be able to let that happen on Saturday."

While the blowtorch was applied to the Lions yesterday following sentimental favourite O'Driscoll's omission, Roberts said they were not feeling the heat thanks to the decision to move camp to Noosa.

Roberts said the Lions had been in danger of burning out after an intense tour, but their Sunshine Coast sojourn had them in the right frame of mind for the decider.

"I've played in big games in the past and what you don't want to do is peak too early," he said.

"I think Warren got everyone here on Monday and Tuesday to relax and enjoy each other's company, to get some time off rugby. Because it's been rugby, rugby, rugby for the last six or seven weeks.

"Coming into the biggest game of the tour, it's a nice build-up. Maybe being in Sydney, being around thousands of Lions fans, all the hustle and bustle, if we had trained Monday and Tuesday, we could have peaked mentally too early."