O'Driscoll shifts blame for defeat from Jackson and Kidney to players generally
Brian O'Driscoll at the launch of the new adidas BOOST footwear in Dublin yesterday. photograph: sportsfile
With the opinion givers as adept at crushing careers as inflating them, Paddy Jackson’s seems to be in need of some mending. That some missed penalties were deemed more egregious than a runner going inside instead of passing outside, a fumbled ball or a knock on with the line begging is to miss the point that any scored points against Scotland would have shifted the momentum.
Brian O’Driscoll, however, would rather focus on an otherwise nuanced performance from the 21-year-old outhalf debutant.
And in that context O’Driscoll also lays the blame for the defeat against the Scots at the feet of the team, not coach Declan Kidney.
In the shifting sands of Test rugby, the players are expected to know instinctively what to do. Last weekend that was often lacking, although it was Jackson who met with enough withering comments to scorch the Murrayfield grass.
In O’Driscoll’s mind the callow outhalf has a long career ahead. With the freight the former captain carries, Jackson has found a heavyweight ally.
“Take Paddy’s kicking from ground away from his performance at the weekend and he was very good,” said O’Driscoll. “He was really good. He threatened. He brought the ball to the line. His passing was really crisp.
“He kicked really well from touch, even on penalties, and he was a bit like Dan Parks, where he got every last yard.
“I though Paddy played a very, very nice game, albeit he didn’t kick his goals the way Irish 10s are expected to.
“There was a lot of pressure put on him because he hadn’t really been kicking for Ulster this year. But I’d imagine Paddy will get a lot of caps and he’ll grow from that. He’ll learn from that.
“I don’t have great worries about Paddy because I really like him as a player. I think he’s a lovely footballer, and good footballers tend to stay the course.”
If it’s not an apparent contradiction, Jackson is also in the corner where O’Driscoll lays the entire blame for the defeat: the players.
In the world of the outside centre, the staff and Kidney can only take the horses to water but they can’t make them drink.
There is an understanding, an acceptance that the blame for international players butchering try-scoring chances does not fall at the door of the coach.
“I would say the game at the weekend is 100 per cent player responsibility,” he says as though it was blindingly obvious.