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BOD: My future's up in air

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24 February 2013; A dejected Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, leaves the pitch after defeat by Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

24 February 2013; A dejected Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, leaves the pitch after defeat by Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

24 February 2013; A dejected Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, leaves the pitch after defeat by Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is mulling over a one-year contract offer from the IRFU to continue his remarkable career.

The speculation over O'Driscoll's desire to play on or retire will drift on for a while. He has no intention of making a definitive decision on the IRFU's offer until after the Six Nations.

"I have been approached by the Union. They have said they want to talk. But, I want to focus on the now, on the Six Nations and come back to them after that," he said.

"I just want to play the Six Nations out and get a full understanding as to how I am going to feel. I am generating an opinion in my own head.

"I need to know first of all if I'm up to it. If I am, then we'll go negotiating. If I am not, I will be able to go: 'thank you, but ....'"

O'Driscoll neatly side-stepped the opportunity to back his coach Declan Kidney, while supporting the captaincy of Jamie Heaslip.

The general consensus seems to be that Kidney has taken Ireland as far as he can in his five years at the helm. It started with a Grand Slam in 2009 and has met a steady decline from there with the odd heroic stand here and there.

O'Driscoll did not call for a contract extension for Kidney: "I don't have to answer that because I don't have a say in it. It doesn't matter what my opinion is one way or the other.

"The IRFU will make the decision themselves. That is their role. It is not the player role to do that. It is not in my control. It is not in any of the players' control.

"It is about now and trying to stop this two-game rot. That comes back to consistency and performance. It is as simple as that."

The Irish squad will reconvene to prepare for France out in Carton House this evening where the discomfort of Kidney and his management team, as well as that of the players, will be put to one side.

"We don't discuss it. We just get on with it. There's complimentary things said when things are going well. There's negative things said when things aren't going so well.

"It doesn't really have any bearing on us. All we know is that we have two more games left in the Six Nations, The next one is France and they haven't won yet.

 

Speculation

"All that speculation (Kidney's contract), we can't let it affect us one way or another because it is essentially not a huge amount to do with us."

In contrast, the former Ireland captain was quick to jump to the defence of the current Ireland leader Heaslip, despite a rush to criticise the No 8.

"Firstly, I think some of the criticism, by the sound of things, is pretty harsh. Jamie is doing a good job," he said.

When O'Driscoll was handed the armband as the successor to hooker Keith Wood, he was younger, had less captaincy experience than Heaslip – the Naas man has led Leinster to 11 wins in 12 matches – and had achieved less in the game. These are indisputable facts.

"I was in a very lucky situation in that I had some strong leaders around me when I came in. The likes of Paulie (O'Connell) were invaluable to me, Rog (Ronan O'Gara) likewise.

"What I am trying to do with Jamie is be an extra voice. There is nothing worse than being captain and feeling there is a huge onus on you to constantly talk.

"I found that when I had to say less and other people were doing the talking for me, we were in a great place. That is what I am trying to do with Jamie now is be another voice for people to try and listen to and make points, take a little bit of the pressure off him.

"What he has been saying has been really good. No one cracks it in the first three or four games as captain. You constantly get better the more you do it. I have absolutely no concerns about him".

The subtext to the criticism of Heaslip can be found in the perception that he does not take his job seriously. This, of course, is not true.

"Pressure has to come from somewhere when there are poor results. It comes at the coach. Then, the next leader of the team is the captain. They are going to get the brunt of it.

 

Disappointed

"I know that Jamie said after the English game, he was disappointed at his own performance that he expected more. You can't question his captaincy."

O'Driscoll was in the mood to share the blame, to embrace the power of collective responsibility. He laid the criticism at the door of all the players.

"I would say that game at the weekend was 100pc player responsibility. We can't have our hands held through games," he said. "There is not much coaches can do. They can put you in a position, educate you as to where they feel opportunities will arise, train you for that and put you out on the pitch.

"Beyond what they say at half-time or the couple of messages they pass on, the ball is in our court and we are responsible for what happens.

"We made three or four clean line breaks. We created the opportunities. That means their information was pretty good. We just didn't take the chances.

"Can you point fingers back at our coaching staff? That is absolutely on us."

Brian O'Driscoll was at the launch of the new adidas BOOST footwear.


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