Former captain still points the way
“It was pretty good proper body-on-the-line stuff and there was a couple of times when guys made key decisions, stopping the ball when they had two or three men overlaps and that’s what you have to do to win tough games.
“We lost the last three to Wales and we just felt as though we needed to stop the rot and we managed to get ourselves in a good position first half. And it’s difficult when you get that defensive mentality, you invite teams on to you. And other than our last ditch tackling we might have seen a different result.”
As well as scoring with something of a trademark close-range plunge for the line, he was also creator in chief of Simon Zebo’s try with a moment which, for pure skill, was only eclipsed by the latter’s subsequent heel-to-hand juggling.
“I’m not going to say it’s classic Brian O’Driscoll,” said the man himself of his try-scoring pass for Zebo. “I just saw it was a set play and we just tweaked it a little bit because the option that we usually take wasn’t on and it was on on the outside.
“Zeebs had to run a great line, he had to trust that I was getting through the gap and putting the ball there and he’s got a striker’s potency, he just likes to finish tries and you could just see his skill level with the second try, it was a joke, you know – keeping the ball up with his foot, it’s nice to watch. It’s nice having those guys on your team rather than playing against them.
“He’s a very skilful guy. You can clearly tell he’s a skilful guy in training. He’s got little tricks and he’s good with a soccer ball but he’s a guy with confidence, playing with a lot of confidence at the moment. And you have to be when you’re in your first Six Nations game and you’re trying things like that and pulling them off.”
O’Driscoll had been “the difference between the two teams” said Shaun Edwards, before adding wearily, “and I wish someone had left him in Ireland”.
Sitting among the press corps, having received some gentle criticism for his choice of Man of the Match, Philip Matthews looked suitably vindicated.
“Who doesn’t like man of the match?” said O’Driscoll with a smile.
“You know, they’re few and far between these days but, whoever it was, Philip Matthews, I’ll buy him a pint later on.”