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Gaffney: BOD can make World Cup

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30 May 2013; Brian O'Driscoll, British & Irish Lions, during squad training ahead of their game against Barbarian FC on Saturday. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, Squad Training, So Kon Po Recreation Ground, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

30 May 2013; Brian O'Driscoll, British & Irish Lions, during squad training ahead of their game against Barbarian FC on Saturday. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, Squad Training, So Kon Po Recreation Ground, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

30 May 2013; Brian O'Driscoll, British & Irish Lions, during squad training ahead of their game against Barbarian FC on Saturday. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, Squad Training, So Kon Po Recreation Ground, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

FORMER Ireland and Leinster backs coach Alan Gaffney has said the IRFU should consider giving Brian O'Driscoll a Richie McCaw-style sabbatical from the game after the Lions tour to give him the best possible chance of participating in the World Cup in 2015.

McCaw is currently on a break from Super Rugby with a view to extending his career and Gaffney said it could be a good option for the long serving Leinster man who has just signed on for an extra year.

"I think you've got to treat individuals differently," Gaffney said.

"The IRFU may not look at it that way but I think it would be a pretty wise decision. Richie McCaw has had a break from the game which is great.

"I'm not saying that Drico would want to go down that path. A lot depends on what Amy (his wife) would like to do in her career and, of course, now they have a child. There'll be a number of issues going into the equation before any of that can be decided."

The former Munster coach, who is now a senior assistant coach at the Waratahs, said O'Driscoll's selection for the Lions and his impressive performances during the Six Nations and for Leinster could have him thinking about another World Cup.

"I last saw Brian the day after we got beaten in the quarter-final of the World Cup in Wellington. At that time he was really looking forward to what could happen for Amy in her career and doing other things. He's had his day in the sun he said but I think there's a lot of football left in Brian O'Driscoll.

 

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"I watched him a lot this year in the Six Nations and any time I could in the Rabo or Heineken and he's still playing some really good rugby and deserves his selection on the Lions tour.

"I would love to see Brian go to the next World Cup because I think he's just instrumental in everything that's happened in Irish rugby since 1999. He's been a critical part of it.

"It's going to be sad, the day he eventually lets it all go. I still think he's got time left and I'd love to see him go to another World cup.

"I raised that briefly with him in 2011 in a tongue and cheek manner but I think it is a possibility. It would be five world cups which would be some achievement."

Gaffney admitted he would love to see a fairy tale ending for the Irish star after a year that saw him having the Irish captaincy taken away, which was, according to Gaffney, a poor decision by Declan Kidney.

"I would not have taken the captaincy off Brian. I think Brian has got the utmost respect from all the players, he's got the utmost respect from all the staff.

"Jamie (Heaslip) would have had aspirations of captaining Ireland at one point in time, but I think at that time Drico would have been the person to take them through and Jamie would have got his time and will do again.

"I just don't think it was a great decision. The leadership of Brian on the pitch, the decisions he makes and everything he adds to that team, to me he's just the person that should have been captain until the day he retired and I just don't think it was a wise decision by Declan."

Gaffney said he believes the decision to award Heaslip the captaincy also put him in an impossible situation.

"Players just look to Brian. Brian doesn't have to be the person that speaks all the time and Brian isn't probably that sort of captain.

"Brian is a person who makes very smart decisions on a rugby field and he also leads by example. People still look to Brian. If Ireland is in a hole where did you look? You look to him because that's what players have been doing for a long, long time. And I suspect that's what was happening during the Six Nations.

"I just think it was an invidious position that Jamie was put in but it's a decision that Deccie made."

Another move that surprised Gaffney was Kidney's decision to leave Ronan O'Gara out of the 23-man squad named to take on France at the Aviva stadium.

"To leave Ronan out of the squad I found pretty amazing. There was a time for some of those other guys (Paddy Jackson) to come through.

"I think some of those guys, and you're not putting them there just because they've been around for a while and you owe them, but I think it would have been a great way for Ronan's career to finish.

"But being dropped for his last couple of games internationally is just not good form. I don't think it's good form at all."


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