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Munster stalwart O'Driscoll ready to call time on career

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Mick O'Driscoll

Mick O'Driscoll

Mick O'Driscoll

AFTER 14 years and more than 200 caps for his native province, Mick O'Driscoll is set to retire from Munster rugby at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old second-row from Cork made his debut for the side in August 1998 and won his 200th cap last month when he led them out against the Newport-Gwent Dragons in their Rabodirect Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade.

O'Driscoll became the eighth player to hit the 200 mark but has the Munster record for appearances in the league, which now stands at 129, after he led Tony McGahan's side to victory over Glasgow at Musgrave Park last weekend.

The second-row has also won 23 caps for Ireland, making his debut in 2001 against Romania and appearing as recently as last August's World Cup warm-up clash with Scotland in Murrayfield.

His remarkable statistics with Munster are all the more noteworthy given that he has spent the majority of his career as back-up to Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan, who have also been Ireland's first-choice second-row partnership for much of the last decade.

O'Driscoll also spent two seasons in France, playing for Perpignan between 2003 and '05 which he has acknowledged as being hugely important in his development as a player, the French club using him as a blindside wing-forward as well as in the second-row.

Renowned for his handling skills and line-out leadership, O'Driscoll has been one of Munster's most consistent performers in the professional era and has captained the side on numerous occasions, as well as playing a key role for the province over the past few seasons when O'Connell was unavailable due to injury.

Munster travel to Wales to take on the Scarlets this weekend, seeking to maintain their position in the top four of the Pro12 ahead of next month's play-off semi-finals.

With leaders Leinster already guaranteed a home semi-final, McGahan's side are looking to round off their campaign with wins over the Scarlets and Ulster to earn home advantage also.

The champions are currently two points behind second-placed Ospreys and three ahead of Glasgow; however, the Ospreys have the easier run-in, hosting the Dragons on Friday night before their final outing away to Aironi.

Irish Independent