Thursday 21 February 2019

All Blacks clash may be O'Driscoll's last act in green – Leamy

FORMER Ireland back-row Denis Leamy believes Sunday's match against New Zealand could be Brian O'Driscoll's last as an Ireland player.

The Tipperary man has also raised doubts over Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip's ability to continue at the top level through to the 2015 World Cup.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie last week suggested that Joe Schmidt needs to start planning for the tournament in England in 21 months by introducing more young faces and refresh the playing stock ahead of the World Cup.

And Leamy reckons that the biggest names in the team should not be immune to being cut with the bigger picture in mind.

"The dilemma facing Schmidt is whether he now sticks with lads who have a lot of mileage on the clock or goes with the younger players with a view to the 2015 World Cup. He doesn't have much time on his side," Leamy wrote in his Irish Independent 'Munster Rugby' column today.

"Brian O'Driscoll is retiring at the end of the season and I don't expect to see him feature in the Six Nations as I think Schmidt will realise he can't afford the luxury of not blooding someone for that position.

"Then he has to decide does he stick with Paul O'Connell as captain through to the World Cup? Two years might not seem that long but when you are 34 and have a lot of mileage, Schmidt will have to wonder if he has the legs to get there.

"You would have to question whether Jamie Heaslip will make it through to 2015. His performances over the past year have raised questions and we have not seen enough of him on the ball.

"It just shows the amount of work Schmidt has to do, and time is not on his side, but he will be relieved to have this segment of games under his belt and start planning for the future."

Irish Independent

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