independent

Friday 18 April 2014

O'Driscoll: Loss of armband did not spark my performance

2 February 2013; Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, picks up an injury to his ear. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
2 February 2013; Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, picks up an injury to his ear. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL dismissed the suggestion that being relieved of the Ireland captaincy has helped him in his return to international duty.

It has been put forward that one of the reasons Declan Kidney relieved O'Driscoll of the armband was to allow him to concentrate on his return to the international arena without the added "burden of captaincy".

O'Driscoll rejected any such proposal.

"I'd like to think that over my 10 years as captain, I played a few good games too," O'Driscoll dead-panned yesterday.

"The captaincy issue doesn't change the way I go about my business in camp or in matches.

"I still say things when I feel the need to. I still commend the young lads when they do well, be that in training or in matches.

"I do that irrespective of the captaincy."

O'Driscoll made a spectacular return to the Ireland team at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, when he set up one try, scored another and won the man-of-the-match gong.

Remarkably he revealed yesterday that he was as nervous last Saturday winning his 121st Ireland cap as he was when making his debut back in 1999.

"I was nervous on Saturday," said O'Driscoll. "I hadn't played an international since last summer.

"And the memories from the last time I pulled on a green jersey weren't great, so it was nice to put that right.

"I always encourage being nervous. It sharpens the mind and, listen, at the best of times eating spaghetti at 10.0 in the morning is going to be difficult, but if you've got some butterflies too, it makes it extra difficult.

"But I think that's part and parcel: if you don't have that at international level, there's something wrong."

O'Driscoll, who also appeared to open the door a fraction on the possibility of his playing on with Ireland beyond this season, readily acknowledged that he is being driven by the possibility of being selected for his fourth Lions tour in the summer.

"It's an honour to be among the top 35 players in the home nations, so you do everything you can – it's definitely an added incentive in a Lions year to get your performances to as high a level as you can," he added.

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