O'Driscoll fears Irish teams facing bleak Euro future
Brian O'Driscoll fears that European Champions Cup quarter-finals taking place without any Irish provinces may be more than a once-off.
Leinster, Munster and Ulster were all eliminated in the pool stages this season and the last eight is entirely made up of teams from the cash-rich leagues in France and England for the first time since 1998.
"It's a worry," said O'Driscoll. "I just think: 'How can you compete with the quality of the squads that are now being built in England and France?'
"The depth of player, the loaded benches that are being used by the Sarries, by the Toulons. . . even when they're not functioning brilliantly they're still winning.
"You talk about a 23-man game and it absolutely is in terms of starters and finishers. But now it is actually about having a 35-40-man squad. And I mean of real quality, not just delving into your academy when you've an injury crisis. The only way you can do that is by having deep pockets."
Meanwhile, Ireland winger Tommy Bowe made a return to action for Ulster's 'A' side yesterday, getting through 40 minutes of their 38-31 win over Munster 'A' in a friendly in Naas.