Wednesday 17 January 2018

Brian O'Driscoll: I just want to be in a team that can beat Warren Gatland's team

Ruaidhri O’Connor

LIKE so many times before, Brian O’Driscoll deployed a neat side-step at Ireland’s team base this afternoon as he got his media duties done nice and early to avoid any potential war of words with Wales coach Warren Gatland.

The former Ireland captain’s focus is on Sunday’s opening Six Nations match against Scotland and, while he repeated his sense of disappointment over being dropped for the Lions’ third Test in Australia, he moved to play down the controversy that is set to reign next week.

No matter what, the media and public will revisit the issue of the New Zealander’s decision next week, but the protagonists are doing their best to dampen the hype.

“That’s why I’m here this week,” he smiled when asked about whether he can avoid the issue next week after the Wales coach did his part at the Six Nations launch last week by preaching calm.

“I don’t really pay that much attention. What happened happened, I don’t have any ill will towards Warren. It was raw at the time, but time heals wounds and I don’t have any animosity towards him.

“I just want to be involved in a team that can beat his team, but that’s next week.  I can’t get into different team’s mentality, but they’ve Italy this week and I’m sure they’re focused on that.”

Ahead of his final Six Nations, the 35-year-old wants to go out on a high.

“I want to try and enjoy it, play well for the team and for myself,” he said. “It is business as usual, I don’t need to change. I’m just thinking about working hard and doing all I can and making sure I’m best prepared.

“I always like to think I’m sharp mentally, just because it’s last I don’t think there’s any extra incentive. There’s always peaking and troughing, but I want to maintain my standards and, just because it’s your last season, it’s still about being a good pro and treating the competition what it is, a difficult one to win.

"I feel good, good week’s training last week. Invariably carry sometimes through and week’s training maybe don’t get everything out of it, but last week’s training went well and I’d a good weekend’s rest."

Before O’Driscoll spoke, Ireland manager Mick Kearney gave a positive injury briefing where he said the 34 players who had reported duty all trained and the coaching staff have no injury worries.

There was further good news in that Tommy Bowe and Donnacha Ryan are set to return to action in next weekend’s Pro12 games and could come into contention for the trip to Twickenham in week three.

Jonathan Sexton reported for duty with a number of stitches in a head wound suffered in Saturday’s Top 14 clash with Toulouse, but will be fit and ready for Sunday. Peter O’Mahony, Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney and Eoin Reddan all played a limited part last week, but should be OK this week.

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