Brian still up for it

He may have played 113 Tests for Ireland and the British & Irish Lions, but Brian O'Driscoll still has plenty of goals left in his rugby career. [more]

Brian still up for it

He may have played 113 Tests for Ireland and the British & Irish Lions, but Brian O’Driscoll still has plenty of goals left in his rugby career.

And as he closes in on two long standing Championship records the signs are that the 32-year-old giant of the game is still taking the long view as far as his career is concerned.

At the RBS 6 Nations launch in London this week the Irish coach Declan Kidney was asked where he would consider playing the 2008 Lions tourists Keith Earls. The question boiled down to whether Earls would fit into the Irish side at full back, outside centre or wing.

“It could be 15, 14 or 13,” admitted Kidney. But, quick as a flash, O’Driscoll added: “It won’t 13 for another four years.”

Few would bet against the Irish skipper gong on for as long as he wants given the form and physical condition he is currently showing for Leinster in both the Magners league and Heineken Cup.

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But over the next eight weeks his focus will be firmly on the RBS 6 Nations and helping Ireland to try to recapture the form that earned them a second Grand Slam in 2009. Ireland launch their campaign in Italy and O’Driscoll can’t wait.

“I love this competition. The interest hasn’t waned in any shape or form over the past decade,” said the man who stamped his mark on the tournament with five tries in his first season and a try hat-trick in Ireland’s first win in Paris in 28 years.

“I have more of a hunger to play in it now because I don’t know how many more games I have got left. I aim to enjoy every part of it – being in the Irish camp, the bus rides to the games and being involved in some great rivalries.

“The tournament, and the game, has definitely got harder over the years. It is more physical and more demanding, but adrenalin is a brilliant thing and helps you get through the bumps and bruises, aches and pains.

“If you asked 100 players in the Six Nations how many of them were 100 per cent fit, 99 would say they had some niggle and the other person would be a liar. It’s impossible to go out 100 per cent fit these days because of the physicality at provincial and international level.

“The feeling you get in a winning dressing room makes you forget the sore muscles and bones for a couple of hours. It’s definitely a feeling I enjoy.”

With a 74% success rate with Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations – 37 wins and a draw in 50 appearances to date – he has experienced that feeling many times over.

Having joined the Championship’s 50 Cap club last season he is now in a race with team mates John Hayes (54) and Ronan O’Gara (51), Scotland’s Chris Paterson (50) and Wales’ Martyn Williams (51) to catch Mike Gibson as the most capped player in Championship history with 56 appearances.

That could take him two seasons, but an even longer standing record is just two tries away. Scottish flyer Ian Smith has held the Championship try scoring record at 24 for the past 78 years. O’Driscoll currently has 22 tries to his credit.

“It’s not something that will have any bearing on the way I play my game or the way I go about this campaign. If the tries come, grand, but it doesn’t really bother me which person in green scores,” said O’Driscoll.

“I get as much enjoyment in creating a try as I do in scoring it. You probably get the kudos a bit more when your name is in the paper the next day, but I’ve walked in a couple of fairly easy tries in my time and the people who deserve the plaudits tend not to get them.”

As he approaches his 12th RBS 6 Nations campaign, O’Driscoll also has another new goal in mind as he leads his team out at the new Aviva Stadium for the first time in the competition against England and France.

“We need to build the Aviva into a fortress and there is a responsibility on the Irish team to get that old Lansdowne Road roar up and running again. Playing there is something else to get excited about,” he said.

 

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