O’Driscoll confident over fitness

Three-tour Lion Brian O'Driscoll is confident he will recover from knee surgery to complete a hat-trick of Heineken Cup finals. [more]

O’Driscoll confident over fitness

Three-tour Lion Brian O’Driscoll is confident he will recover from knee surgery to complete a hat-trick of Heineken Cup finals.

The Leinster Rugby legend missed last weekend's RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final victory over Glasgow Warriors after undergoing key-hole surgery to trim his cartilage following a training ground injury.

But he is increasingly confident that he will win his fitness race to face Ulster at Twickenham on Saturday.

"You'd have to have a limb falling off to stop you playing in the Heineken Cup final. I might not train fully until Thursday, but I don't think I'll be far off 100% come Saturday so it doesn't worry me greatly," said two-time winner O'Driscoll.

"I went and had a little trim of the cartilage done on Friday morning. In my mind it has never been an option not to play this weekend and my recovery has gone well over the weekend.

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"A big part of weeks like this is about resting and keeping your feet up on the couch. Sometimes you can feel guilty for doing that, but that's part of the job – making sure you're fully rested and ready for Saturday.

"One thing about having a longish career is that you learn to deal with having knocks going into games. There's no point in playing out the game beforehand, it's about this week culminating in 80 minutes come Saturday afternoon, nothing else."

"I've had different injuries at different times and been able to play with them, so I will just be drawing on that reserve to understand what it takes to prepare myself as best as possible to take the pitch on Saturday.

"I think a part of it is about remaining positive and concentrating on the best-case scenario. If you get down about yourself it doesn't help the healing process. Provided you can remain upbeat I think you give your body every chance to recover as soon as it possibly can.

"Physically I do recover from injuries quicker than some. It's a combination of trying to work hard on small things and making sure everything else is ticking over."

O'Driscoll has become synonymous with the Lions in recent years and has played a starring role during the last three tours.

He captained the famous side during the 2005 tour of New Zealand, which infamously ended in injury.

His Ireland team-mate Paul O'Connell took the captain's armband for the 2009 tour of South Africa but O'Driscoll was a central figure and formed a deadly midfield partnership with Man of the Series Jamie Roberts.

But the 33-year-old, who is one try short of equalling Vincent Clerc's tournament record of 32, is not the only injury concern for Leinster ahead of their all-Irish clash with Ulster .
Fellow centre Eoin O'Malley has been ruled out for six months with a cruciate ligament injury, while prop Cian Healy is recovering from a sore ankle.

Former Lion Gordon D'Arcy had to have stitches in a head wound after the win over Glasgow, while 2009 Test full back Rob Kearney is expected to be fine for Twickenham after sitting out the PRO12 semi-final with a back problem.

O'Driscoll expects a tight affair in London and reckons the crunch encounter could come down to the smallest of margins.

"Discipline is going to be key on Saturday because when you have a guy who's able to knock over penalties from 55 or 60 yards you can't afford to be giving away silly penalties," added O'Driscoll. 

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