O’Driscoll Open to One More Season

Leinster Rugby Squad Training and Media Briefing - Monday 1st April

Brian O’Driscoll may well continue with Leinster and Ireland for another season, despite widespread opinion that the Lions tour to Australia is shaping up as his last act on a rugby field.

I understand from sources close to the former Ireland captain that it’s by no means a done deal that this will be his last summer as a professional rugby player.

First there is the Joe Schmidt factor. My clear understanding is that O’Driscoll would have retired, despite having the hump with the way his Six Nations finished, in Rome, had there not been regime change. Just as Declan Kidney was finished with O’Driscoll as captain, so was the player finished with Kidney as coach.

The prospect of Schmidt getting the Ireland job would weigh in favour of keeping O’Driscoll on for another year. They have an excellent relationship and if everything else was right then they would be happy to crack on together.

Second there is the Lions. Warren Gatland’s attitude to the captaincy is that whoever wears the armband on tour may not automatically be wearing it when the team runs out in the three Tests. So he will pick his team for those contests and then consider who should lead. The tour captain may not be in the 22.

If Gatland is going down the power route then Jamie Roberts and Manu Tuilagi will be his centre pairing, in which case he can select O’Driscoll as the tour leader bringing an unrivalled level of experience to the job.

I don’t know if O’Driscoll would consider that the ideal sign-off to his career but either way I’m pretty certain he doesn’t want what happened in Stadio Olimpico to have been his final act in green.

Third there is his physical wellbeing. There will be a price to be paid down the line for the brutal physicality of modern day professional rugby, where ‘bigger, faster, stronger’ is the primary pursuit in player development. O’Driscoll has taken a hammering in almost 15 seasons of Test rugby. When at the end of the Lions tour four years ago he started talking about Australia in 2013 I though he’d had his bell rung once too often. He’s had a few more dings since then, but comparatively this has been a low level season for him. Between injury and suspension he’s played 80 minutes only five times for Leinster (out of nine games) and three times for Ireland (out of five), albeit with two of those early international departures coming in the last 10 minutes.

So he’s probably been in worse nick. And if his body hasn’t quite fallen apart, and the coach he rates highest is closing in on the top job in the land, then maybe one more campaign is on the cards.



About Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning has been involved in rugby all of his life as a player, coach and journalist. He has been rugby correspondent on the Sunday Independent since 1996, and has been reporting on the game since the mid 1980s when he stopped playing with Clontarf. In 2007 his book From There to Here, a definitive account of Ireland’s transition from amateur to professional rugby, was published to critical acclaim.
This entry was posted in Australia, British and Irish Lions, Concussion, IRFU, Irish Rugby, Leinster Rugby, Rugby, Rugby News, Rugby Opinion, Sports Comment and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to O’Driscoll Open to One More Season

  1. William McIlwaine says:

    Slow news week then? Even for a sports reporter, this really is fluff

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve long wondered how much of an influence the presence of Kidney has been on the possibility of O’Driscoll retiring from international rugby. He made it clear that the year that Kidney spent at Leinster was a wasted one as far as he was concerned and the progressively more limited style of play employed by Ireland since Kidney’s appointment must have sucked much of the enjoyment out of the international game for him despite (or perhaps even partly because of) the highs of the grand slam.

    The other thought that comes to mind is that if he’s going to do one more year then why not another to include the next world cup where if Schmidt is in charge an Irish team might finally deliver at least the sum of their parts? All that assumes that he’s physically up to it which is not a given. He might need to be played more sparingly and allowed to plan for a small number of peaks with proper regeneration time in between. You couldn’t do it for every player but if there was one that you would do it for it’s surely O’Driscoll.

  3. S says:

    Very interesting interpretation of the BOD one more year saga from Fanning:
    Tends to be on the ball on these things.
    The Kidney mention is also quite revealing.

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