Eoin Reddan believes title would be fitting finale for Brian O’Driscoll
Ireland must back-up home send-off with victory over France in Paris
Brian O’Driscoll in action against Italy during Saturday’s Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho
Ireland must deliver the Six Nations title to pay due homage to Brian O’Driscoll’s record-breaking career, according to Eoin Reddan.
Iconic centre O’Driscoll will retire from international rugby after his 141st Test cap against France in Paris next Saturday.
The seven-try, 46-7 hammering of Italy leaves Joe Schmidt’s side in pole position to take the Six Nations title with victory in Paris.
O’Driscoll has set a new Test appearance world record, and will extend his record Six Nations caps tally to 65 to boot.
The 35-year-old Leinster midfielder is Ireland’s leading try-scorer with 46, and tops the Six Nations all-time scoring charts with 26.
Despite 15 years at the top of the world game, though, O’Driscoll only has one Six Nations crown, the 2009 Grand Slam.
His stunning hat-trick dragged Ireland to their only win in Paris in 42 years, back in 2000.
Now his Leinster and Ireland team-mate Reddan believes the only way to do that track record justice is to pull off a rare victory on French soil.
“This win over Italy won’t mean much if we don’t back it up next week,” said Reddan. “We already spoke about that in the dressing room after the game.
“It was a great occasion, but the players have to pay their respects in terms of delivering in Paris for him.
“It was right to have it: these moments can pass you by if you don’t emphasise them.
“Now we as players have to deliver, and give him a pat on the back in a different way, and produce a huge performance in France to give him a proper and well-deserved send-off.
“The temptations are there for people outside the group to go over the top on a polished performance, but there’s no way we’re seeing ourselves as favourites over there.”
Leinster prop Jack McGrath was just 10 years old when O’Driscoll ran in that breathless Paris hat-trick.
The 24-year-old frontrower admitted he had never seen anything like the adulation of O’Driscoll’s great Dublin farewell against Italy on Saturday.
“I watched that hat-trick game at home on the TV,” said McGrath.
“There’s a lot of hard work that went into becoming his team-mate.
“If you dwell on it too much it passes you by, but you have to step back and you have to enjoy the times as well.
“This is a time I’ll remember for the rest of my life, to be involved in it is brilliant, and it’s a pleasure to have been involved in a day like today.
“I don’t think there has ever been anything like this in Irish sport, so it’s definitely something to remember and something that will go down in history.”