It was an honour to play with Brian, says ROG
Retired rugby star Ronan O'Gara has revealed he knows Brian O'Driscoll "warts and all" – and says it was always an honour to play with him.
The fly-half turned coach has a year's worth of experience since leaving his playing days behind, something O'Driscoll is now preparing to do. O'Gara ranks playing alongside O'Driscoll among the highlights of his illustrious rugby career.
"My whole career was playing with Brian," O'Gara told the Irish Independent. "I played 130 times with him for Ireland.
"Brian knows me warts and all and I know him warts and all. He's a special person, never mind player. It was an honour to play alongside him and to have such great memories."
O'Gara, who hung up his boots last year and is now a coach at Paris club Racing Metro, said it would take O'Driscoll some time to settle into retirement.
"The first few weeks are difficult, but you get on with it. The big thing I miss is the team environment and the camaraderie."
O'Driscoll lines out at Lansdowne Road as an Irish international for the final time today. It will be an emotional match, but O'Gara believes he should focus on his family and the next chapter in his life.
"Now that he's a da as well, that can put rugby in perspective," O'Gara said. "It's the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. He has great days ahead of him.
"He should be proud of what he achieved. He's the best player in the country."
O'Gara was speaking at Irish NGO Haven's annual Six Nations lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin where he was honoured for his outstanding contribution to Irish rugby.
O'Gara is the all-time highest points scorer for Ireland and the fourth-highest points scorer in the history of rugby union.
"Now I'm in Paris I don't get to come back to Ireland that often so it's nice to be honoured at these awards," he said.
The former No 10 recently picked up an IFTA nomination for 'The Ronan O'Gara Documentary'. He will battle it out with the late Paidi O Se for Sports Film of the Year. "I wasn't aware of that," he said. "Obviously Paidi is an iconic figure. The producers make us look good."
Since Haven's launch in 2008, the charity has constructed, repaired and upgraded 2,400 homes in Haiti.