Friday 23 March 2018

Brian O'Driscoll pays classy tribute to the player many thought would be his successor - Luke Fitzgerald

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

An Ireland international at 18, a Lion at 21 and retired at 28 - Luke Fitzgerald was always on the fast track.

From the time he exploded onto the scene as a dazzling Blackrock schoolboy, everyone knew he was destined for greatness. He achieved it - although far too briefly, as today he announced his retirement from rugby at just 28.

Read more: Luke Fitzgerald retires from rugby due to injury at the age of 28 

As recently as eight months ago, Fitzgerald was an integral part of the Irish set-up - it was his introduction off the bench that brought Joe Schmidt's men back into their World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Once again though, injury derailed his season and while today's news was saddening, it wasn't exactly surprising.

Many players and coaches have paid tribute to Fitzgerald today, with one post on social media feeling particularly poignant.

Read more: 'A special talent' - Leo Cullen leads tributes for retired Luke Fitzgerald 

Given that they attended the same school, and played with a similar attacking verve, it is no surprise that Fitzgerald was often compared to Brian O'Driscoll early in his career.

Some viewed Fitzgerald as O'Driscoll's eventual successor at outside centre. The duo partnered each other in midfield when the All Blacks visited Dublin in 2008, but that was one of the few times that fans got to glimpse what might have been.

Fitzgerald and O'Driscoll did, however, enjoy plenty of success together - in 2009 alone they won a Grand Slam, a Heineken Cup and started a Lions test alongside each other.

O'Driscoll remembered the good times in an Instagram post this evening, while also acknowledging how Fitzgerald could have enjoyed an even more memorable career had he not suffered from so many injuries.

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