Brian O’Driscoll keen to pass on his experiences to Ireland’s younger players
Leinster legend says it won’t be long before Australia are a superpower again
Brian O’Driscoll: “With Joe it’s not about the fancy stuff.”
At the conclusion of yesterday’s sitting with Dr Brian O’Driscoll a touring reporter asked whether this was his last waltz with the Wallabies.
“Unless there is another fixture from now until May!”
The point was legitimate. This being his last lap of an epic Antipodean rivalry, and considering that massive black box that needs ticking Sunday week, there must be a tinge of nostalgia?
“In time. Nostalgia is not for while you are still playing.”
But “fond memories” flooded the room. His first cap in the summer of 1999. The Gabba in 2001. The World Cup heroics two years later with that long blonde mane. That try in 2009.
“I got my first cap against my boyhood hero Tim Horan. Big moment with the Lions and more recently I managed to win a series with the Lions . . .
“So, yeah, there has been some really great days. Some not so great days too but I enjoy playing against them because I think you have to be clever when you do.
“They are an intelligent team. It is nice having that game of chess against them, trying to outsmart one another.”
Are you really a doctor?
Philosophically speaking he is.
And so the game remains simply the game (“It’s just another game.”). Even when the thorny subject of exclusion from the third Lions Test is broached.
“Listen, that’s gone. People need to let go of it. I know I have let go of it.
‘Best in world’
“It’s just about Ireland now getting the opportunity to play against a team that’s more often than not one of the best in the world.”
More often than not.
“They’ll be a superpower again very soon . . . but they’ve got high standards.”
Against Samoa O’Driscoll gave one of his last thrills on grass. The Andre Agassi back-flick to Fergus McFadden accelerated into Seán O’Brien’s try.
Schmidt noted afterwards the performance was not “vintage O’Driscoll”, pointing out a flawed defensive read.
You sense these perfectionists relish every second in each other’s company.
“With Joe it’s not about the fancy stuff, it’s about doing the basics well. I go through my game with him each week and try to see where I can improve and that was one area where I made a bad read. It compromised us a little bit . . .”
We zip onto his new centre partner. The old swerver and Luke Marshall’s magic hands.
“He doesn’t look it but he has a lot of muscle-mass that can travel at a good speed.
“For someone with good feet he also possesses a potency when the ball just needs to be crashed up. In the Six Nations a couple of times when we were setting things up and he was gone, so he’s not a bad guy to trail.
“He has bucket loads of experience to gain,” O’Driscoll added, diluting all platitudes. “From my partnership with (D’Arcy) there’s an element of telepathy, of understanding each other’s body-language so you can read off him. There’s a comfort factor that I don’t have with Lukey yet so it’s about building that in training.
“He’s a very good player who will become a very, very, very good player.”
He went on to describe himself in the coaching context for the cubs running off him this week.
“These guys have watched a lot of rugby but haven’t played very much at this level so it is about trying to get them understand their roles and help them along with any teething problems and getting them to understand a lot of plays.
“I think it is comfortable for someone like me because I am experienced but also because I have played under Joe for three years so I know what he wants.
“It is about trying to empower them with the knowledge of what he is looking for because if they are playing better they are putting pressure on me and I have to deliver more myself. In a perverse kind of way it gets the best out of myself.”
In a perverse kind of way that should lift every soul in the stadium when the band plays Waltzing Matilda tomorrow evening.