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O'Driscoll: Calm heads can retain Six Nations

Brian O'Driscoll insists Ireland will defend their Grand Slam knowing how to react in pressure-cooker situations.

In the past, Irish composure at key moments against major opposition has proved fragile, leading to a string of near misses in their quest for the RBS 6 Nations title.

They proved adept at winning tight games in last year's championship and continued that theme in the autumn, when they salvaged a late draw with Australia and edged out South Africa.

"During those tight games in November there was never any panic," said O'Driscoll, who will be captain for an eighth Six Nations.

"Against Australia when we needed to score at the end there was a realisation of what we needed to do to get over the line.

"There was an air of calmness that comes with experience. The more of that you have the better."

Ireland are in the position of having to defend a Grand Slam for only the second time in their history and O'Driscoll insists they are hungrier than ever for silverware.

"Hopefully it's going to be our time again," he said.


"You get selfish after obtaining a goal. You get a taste for it. It doesn't mean your ambition is less, in fact it probably heightens it.

"I enjoyed all the trappings that came with the Grand Slam -- the winning itself, the celebrations and the general feeling in the country.

"It was great and if we can do that again, why not? It's better than not doing it again.

"As Irish people we don't do middle ground. We're at the very top or down the bottom.

"We've experienced being very low after the 2007 World Cup and it's definitely a nicer feeling being at the top. We want to stay there for as long as we possibly can."