Sunday 2 August 2015

"Emotional" O'Driscoll calls for "one massive performance" in Paris

Nick Purewal

Published 08/03/2014 | 19:25

Ireland can face down history and sweep to RBS 6 Nations title glory in Paris next weekend, according to Brian O'Driscoll.

Stalwart centre O'Driscoll brought down 15 years of international rugby in Dublin by sparking Ireland's 46-7, seven-try hammering of Italy on Saturday.

The 35-year-old created three of Ireland's tries as the hosts overwhelmed the Azzurri to set up a potential title decider against France next Saturday.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt hailed O'Driscoll as the "final bastion" of creative centre play.

The British and Irish Lion set a new world-record Test appearance tally of 140 and a new 64-turn Six Nations mark to boot, and admitted he was "embarrassed" by all the attention.

O'Driscoll's stunning hat-trick guided Ireland to their sole Paris victory in 42 years in 2000: now he believes Schmidt's men can return to that scene and steal the Six Nations crown.

"I couldn't have asked for a better close to playing at home in an Irish jersey," said the Leinster midfielder.

"To score 46 points and only concede one try, it really made the day what it was.

"I'll remember that for a very long, long time.

"I got emotional at the end; it was hard to take it all in.

"I think maybe when I go back and maybe look over it again, I'll probably get more emotional then.

"But it was very, very special, if a little embarrassing, but it was still great.

"I feel we have the capability to win there of course, more so now than many of the other times we've gone over there.

"But we realise just how tough a challenge it is.

"We've won once there in 42 years, one win and one draw.

"We realise the size of the challenge, but we feel as though when we go well we're a difficult team to contain.

"So we just have to get ourselves up for one massive performance."

O'Driscoll teed up both Johnny Sexton's tries, and the score for Andrew Trimble.

As he stepped off the field on the hour-mark, to a man the Aviva Stadium rose to acclaim the icon's last Dublin turn in international colours.

Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
8 March 2014; Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll, with his daughter Sadie, leave the pitch after the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll watches the game from his seat after being substituted, with Jonathan Sexton and team masseur Willie Bennett, right. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, greets former Ireland player Ronan O'Gara after being substituted during the second half. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their child Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, waves to him just before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, in action during the game. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll arrives at the Aviva today
Leonardo Sarto of Italy celebrates after scoring his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, on the way scoring his side's first try
Ireland's Andrew Trimble and Italy's Quentin Geldenhuys during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland passes ahead of Gonzalo Garcia of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland waves farewell to the fans after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Gordon D'Arcy of Ireland is tackled by Michele Campagnaro of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Sean Cronin scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Andrew Trimble scores his side's second try despite the attentions of Italy's Tito Tebaldi and Joshua Furno (right) during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie from the pitch as his team-mates form a guard of honor after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with wife Amy Huberman and daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll kisses his wife Amy Huberman as she holds daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch with his daughter Sadie during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy at Aviva stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll heads down the tunnel after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is embraced by his mother Geraldine along with his wife Amy Huberman (left) holding their daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll applauds a late Ireland try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after he left the field during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll leaves the field after beating Italy in the Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva stadium in Dublin
Ireland's Sean Cronin (bottom right) scores a try against Italy
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, offloads the ball to Jonathan Sexton leading to his side's fourth try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with his mother Geraldine after the game.
Brian O'Driscoll's wife Amy Huberman, with daughter Sadie,look on after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Gordon D'Arcy after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Jonathan Sexton after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll salutes the fans after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll looks emotional after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the game.
Ireland's Jack McGrath, left, is congratulated by team-mates Paddy Jackson, right, and Eoin Reddan after scoring his side's final try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll sings the National Anthem with team mascots, Oran Richardson, age 7, from Malahide, Dublin, left, and Katie Kennedy, age 7, from Terenure, ahead of the game.
Leonardo Sarto of Italy runs in his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is tackled by Luciano Orquera of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Cian Healy of Ireland scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is replaced by Fergus McFadden in the second half
Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Mike Ross of Ireland sing the National Anthem

O'Driscoll will retire in the summer, and is confident he will do so with Ireland in better fettle than ever.

"I think it was nice to be able to have involvements in important moments in the game," he said.

"I take as much satisfaction in setting up tries as scoring them, I have to these days, I don't tend to get too many myself any more.

"The second half performance in particular, we did a lot of great work from the first half tiring them out.

"We played with a lot of ball, and that's where we got our just rewards in the second half.

"Since the All Blacks game we've really created a great atmosphere, and off the back of the performance there that's instilled confidence in the crowd.

"I think that's important and hopefully we can hold onto that.

"It was great, special because it was the last one and you have to take it on its own for what it was.

"But a really great point was made that it was a semi-final for us, because there would be nothing afterwards if we didn't win.

"We had a really good win today, and we've put ourselves in position for a final.

"We need certain combinations to happen next week, but at least we're the last team to play and we'll know what we need to do.

"Hopefully we'll go and win in France - and that will be enough."

Ireland boss Schmidt confirmed Conor Murray was withdrawn in the opening exchanges after feeling unwell.

Italy said initial examination indicated tighthead prop Martin Castrogiovanni had not suffered fractures to his heavily-bruised ribs.

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel tipped Ireland to win the championship in Paris, while also conceding his side suffered their worst reverse in his tenure.

"I think Ireland can win the tournament because they have great continuity in their performance," he said.

"They are showing this over many games, like the All Blacks in November and even against England despite the defeat.

"From a result point of view, this is our worst performance in my time.

"But in the first half we showed good defence, and we had some good possession.

"In the second half Ireland kept the ball, and our defence wasn't as competitive as in the first half."

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