Wednesday, March 10, 2010

O’Driscoll’s Ireland ton simply an almighty achievement – Ireland V Wales Hospitality

BRIAN O’Driscoll has had more than a decade in which to become accustomed to being Irish rugby football’s golden boy.

He has won European rugby’s biggest prizes at club and international level, with his straining-beneath-the-weight personal trophy cabinet including Heineken Cup and Grand Slam mementoes.

Some of the mere mortals who pay to watch Ireland’s oval ball superstar do so dressed in T-shirts extolling him. ‘BOD Almighty.’ One was on view at Twickenham on February 27, his face emblazoned upon the green cotton fabric for the benefit of anyone unable to decipher who BOD might be. Those requiring such help must lead very sheltered lives, for O’Driscoll is the best-known exponent of the game on the planet.

Paul O’Connell, who knows more than most about going in where it hurts, said: “He takes unbelievable punishment for a guy who would be considered to be a flamboyant player. He takes unbelievable punishment in the tackle and the ruck.

“He has set a standard for players across the board. He’s a complete player and that’s what everybody aspires to be — the complete player, both in defence and attack.”

If O’Driscoll feels burdened by the weight of expectation resting upon him, he does not allow it to show. That is another of his many strengths. Calm in a crisis.

But even by the levels of fuss and acclamation with which he is familiar, this is an exceptional week for an exceptional player. For on Saturday, two weeks after John Hayes became its founder, O’Driscoll will join the Munster tighthead as the second member of Irish Rugby’s 100 Cap Club.

O’Driscoll himself said: “When you get your first cap it’s such a huge honour. I was such a young age; I was 20.

“At the start it’s about winning as many caps as possible and then your mindset changes and you want to win as many times as possible in getting those caps. It’s about winning individual games.

“Then you get selfish and you want to start winning trophies, but you don’t really look at things and think, ‘Oh one day to attain 100.’ You just keep playing.”

He admitted that in recent years there have been moments when he has thought, “the next game in a green jersey could be my last. I don’t think you can go too far wrong if you have that attitude.”

“I love going training every day and I love playing, though obviously there are parts of the job that I wouldn’t love. But getting on the pitch and getting to exercise every day for a living is pretty good,” he said.

“When you look at the greatest players of all time they have always said that there is always room for improvement.”

Citing Gareth Edwards and Dan Carter as greats O’Driscoll added: “These guys were always working on certain aspects of their game.

“The second I think that I have it cracked it will be time to hang my boots up because you’ve lost the plot.”

Ireland V Wales Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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