O’Driscoll ready for challenges ahead

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has warned his RBS 6 Nations opponents he is feeling "refreshed in body and mind". [more]

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Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has warned his RBS 6 Nations opponents he is feeling "refreshed in body and mind".

O’Driscoll missed the November internationals after undergoing surgery on the dislocated shoulder he sustained during the first British & Irish Lions Test in New Zealand.

The 27-year-old’s comeback has progressed well, with his three appearances for Leinster witnessing a gradual improvement topped by his masterclass in Sunday’s European Cup victory over Bath.

Now he is ready to resume his international career in the RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy on February 4, with the spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu which forced him to go under the surgeon’s knife a distant memory.

"Last weekend gave me some confidence going into the Six Nations, and I am looking forward to pulling the green jersey on again," he said.

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"I am a positive person by nature and I saw coming back as a challenge more than anything else. That is what got me through the tougher times over the last six months.

"I am refreshed in body and mind. The tackle was one of those things that happened. You have to move on."

Ireland were ranked RBS 6 Nations favourites last season but finished third, with defeats against France and eventual winners Wales ending their Grand Slam dream.

O’Driscoll believes injuries and form, not temperament, proved their downfall.

"I would like to think expectation was not our undoing last time. We did not perform brilliantly in any game other than against England," he said.

"That is what disappointed us. We did not perform to the level we set ourselves. We also suffered with injury – losing Shane Horgan, who was playing so well, was a massive blow.

"I and Gordon D’Arcy also missed games, and to have so much disruption to the midfield throughout the competition unsettled us."

O’Driscoll believes this year’s RBS 6 Nations will see several upsets and outlined the challenge facing Wales in their Grand Slam defence.

"England will be there or thereabouts. Only a good side could push New Zealand as close as they did in November," he said.

"A lot of teams are capable of beating other sides on any given day in this tournament. That makes for very exciting viewing. Predicting a winner is not easy. No-one gave Wales a chance this time last year.

"Winning a Grand Slam is one thing, but defending it is a big ask because people will want to knock Wales off their perch. It is a different year, and there are so many chances of upsets."

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