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Blues must prove mettle without talisman Drico in revved up city

Much has been made about Brian O'Driscoll's injury and subsequent absence from the game. As he has been our most decorated player throughout the past decade, such accolades will always draw close attention.

However, I have been surprised and disappointed at some of the negative press in relation to whether the injury could be the beginning of the end for him.

Be sure that Drico will go out on his own terms and I'm sure he will come back better from his stint away from the game.

Despite setback after setback, Jonny Wilkinson has returned to the England fold, albeit a little shy of the form of previous years.

O'Driscoll too has mileage on the clock but at least seems to be considering his long-term health, which is a smart move.

For Ireland and Leinster, it provides an opportunity to find the long-term replacement for his number 13 jersey.

Such has been the over-reliance on O'Driscoll over the years, no one has stepped into his shoes.

New Zealand were in a similar situation with Dan Carter.

It's understandable to a point that coaches do not want to envisage the loss of such quality operators. The All Blacks nearly blew the World Cup on the back of not having a recognisable second-choice kicker, let alone a backup number 10. Ireland and Leinster will hopefully answer the big question as best they can in the coming weeks.

Leinster would have been glad to have jumped the Munster hurdle, in light of the mammoth task they have in front of them at the weekend in Montpellier.

I would not have gone as far as to call it fever at the Aviva -- the man of the match for me was the referee, who unfortunately made a scrappy game even more scrappy.

The game was devoid of any momentum or continuity but it was to a certain extent expected. With international players returning and considering the high standard that has been set between these two sides in the past, many will forgive and forget.



HOSTILE

Leinster, however, will travel to Montpellier knowing that their championship mettle will be put to the test in the most hostile of conditions and without their talisman.

The home fans have been excited about this fixture for months, hence the change to the 33,000-seater soccer stadium in a built-up part of the city.

Montpellier have not been going well so far this year, but due to the multitude of internationals on their books, they would have suffered more than most with World cup absentees.

The likes of Trinh-Duc and a number of Georgia's heavy-hitters return to a side that will push Leinster all the way.

I have no doubt that Leinster will make up for the loss of O'Driscoll, but any backing off will result in a tough day at the office. It may not be pretty but it should be an enthralling contest.


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