Thursday 22 June 2017

Watch: 'We’re still probably trying to fill that void left by Brian O’Driscoll' - Luke Fitzgerald

Brian O'Driscoll makes a break in his Ireland days
Brian O'Driscoll makes a break in his Ireland days
Brian O’Driscoll scoring a try against Wales in Ireland’s 2007 victory. Photo: Pat Murphy/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Former Ireland winger Luke Fitzgerald has said that Ireland are "still trying to fill the void left by Brian O’Driscoll" after Joe Schmidt’s side were defeated 22-9 by Wales in Cardiff on Friday.

Ireland were outscored three tries to nil in a pulsating contest at the Principality Stadium, but after the game question marks were once again raised over Ireland’s creativity in attack after Schmidt’s charges failed to cross the whitewash despite having more possession and territory.

Fitzgerald feels that Ireland’s inability to score on Friday stems from a long running issue to replace the creativity of Ireland’s all-time leading try scorer Brian O’Driscoll who retired from international rugby in 2014.

O’Driscoll and long time midfield partner Gordon D’Arcy have since been replaced by incumbents Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, but that Ireland’s current centre partnership must still be given time to grow and develop.

“We’re still probably trying to fill that void left by Brian O’Driscoll,” Fitzgerald said on Independent.ie’s The Left Wing.

“We miss his bit of creativity in that centre spot and that’s a really important area because that’s where you break teams down. It’s where you deliver passes and it’s where you have to make good decisions on the line.

“I think there’s still a bit of growth there for the two guys [Henshaw and Ringrose]. I think Robbie is superbly physical and I thought he was brilliant on the weekend. Obviously he’ll be a bit disappointed with his error but I actually thought he was our best back on the weekend, and I think Garry is still growing into it and I still think he’s finding his feet at international level.

“He’s a brilliant runner, there’s no doubt about that, he’s a great defender, it’s just putting other guys into space, that’s the growth for him.

“That’s the key area and I feel it’s why we haven’t broken teams down as much we’re just missing that Brian O’Driscoll-esque kind of player.”

Six Nations coverage on The Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the official airline to the Irish rugby team.

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