Sport Rugby

Tuesday 20 February 2018

BOD: "I'll give advice but respect Jamie's position as captain"

Brian O'Driscoll has said that he will not be afraid to give advice in situations on the pitch but he will respect Jamie Heaslip's authority as captain.

Decision-making in the team has been called into question when Ireland opted to go for the corner early on against Scotland and O'Driscoll seemed to take control with Ireland chasing the game late on.

Declan Kidney has been criticised in many circles for choosing to hand the Heaslip the captaincy over O'Driscoll after below-par displays from the number eight against England and Scotland  BOD, who was replaced as Ireland captain prior to the Six Nations, has said he will speak up if the situation merits and help Heaslip when he can during games.

"I think I can help Jamie when he needs it. I'm a senior player in the team albeit not captain anymore. I'll certainly add my tuppence worth at times if I feel certain situations," he told RTE.

"Ultimately I have to respect that he is the captain and he has the final call on those decisions.

"That's how we were working it and I don't see anything changing in that regard."  Ireland's record tryscorer has also stated that the focus for the squad has to be on France at the Aviva Stadium on March 9 and not the mounting speculation on Declan Kidney's future as head coach.

"We've got two games left in the Six Nations, I know Declan is contracted up until the summer, after the summer tour, and if we're looking at that now we're in trouble," he added.

"We've got ourselves in a bit of hole in the Six Nations. We need to focus on France next week and not concern ourselves with what is going to be happening in the future.

"We need to just dig in collectively, as a management and a squad, and start focusing on our next game because beyond that there's not much to worry us.

"Declan is not responsible for us not being clinical. The buck has to stop with the players when they butcher chances. He doesn't have any hand or say in that."  Much has been made of Ireland's poor finishing in the 12-8 defeat to the Scots on Sunday but O'Driscoll had strong words to say about the "stupid" penalties Ireland gave away to Scott Johnson's men that ultimately cost Ireland the game.

"People have to put their hand up and accept some responsibility for the silly penalties," he said.

"We do a bit of analysis on referees as well so we know what they're hot on. It's not as though we are going into games blind.

"The stupid ones that you wouldn't see at schoolboy level is unacceptable and you just can't have that.

"The guys who were responsible know that and feel silly for giving them away but we have to sharpen those things up, particularly against a French team who are winless thus far in the competition. It doesn't get any easier."  O'Driscoll was upbeat on certain aspects of Ireland's performance and praised the impact of Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall although he did refer to Jackson's place-kicking problems.

"I don't think we played that badly and certainly in the first half I thought we played some good stuff, we put some good phases together, made some great linebreaks and that's where we need to be at," he added.

"It's not all doom and gloom. It's just that we never took any of our opportunities.

"Paddy didn't have a brilliant day with the goal-kicking but I though the rest of his game was exceptionally good. He ran it well, he put people through gaps.

"Himself and Luke (Marshall) in the centre acquitted themselves really well.

"He hasn't been kicking a lot with Ulster this year so it's hard to point fingers.

"It's a practice and a confidence thing. Paddy's a good goal-kicker, I've seen him at training. He does have a high percentage success rate."

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