Published 20/01/2011 | 05:00
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has given the clearest indication yet that he is willing to finish his career in Ireland with Leinster.
O'Driscoll's contract is due to expire following this year's World Cup and, although he said he is not under pressure to make a decision, his glowing tributes to new Leinster coach Joe Schmidt's impact with the province might make him reconsider his options.
O'Driscoll hinted last year that he might be willing to discuss a move to Stade Francais, where Leinster's Heineken Cup-winning coach of 2009, Michael Cheika, is based.
With Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton yet to be offered new deals by the IRFU, Leinster could ill-afford to also lose their talismanic midfield star, who turns 32 tomorrow. He had also hinted at retirement in recent times, but ahead of Leinster's trip to Paris to face Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup round six clash tomorrow, O'Driscoll declared that he may shelve talk of retirement.
"I'm feeling good," he said. "Feeling like I'm not ready to go yet, fit; more importantly, I'm really enjoying what I'm doing, more so maybe than I did for many years.
"As long as I still have that hunger, I don't feel I'm ready to give up, so we we'll see over the next while. I don't want to put any crazy pressure on myself to declare as to how long I want to play for.
"But I feel, at the moment, that I have plenty more good rugby to give and particularly with this competition. I'm thriving on it and enjoying it. It's a bit different from previous seasons -- there were times maybe when it might have been easier to get into teams, but now the tougher it gets sometimes the more enjoyable it gets.
"Sometimes you feel even more fulfilled when you've produced when you've really merited getting on the team because guys have been pushing you very hard.
"Make-a-decision time? I'm not stressing or anything. I'm enjoying things at the moment and as the Six Nations comes through, I'll reassess things. The World Cup will be on us before long and I'm sure some decision will be made before that."