Monday 19 August 2019

'In the whole room, there was a collective gasp' - The time Brian O'Driscoll got the full Joe Schmidt treatment

19 April 2011; Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt and Brian O'Driscoll during squad training ahead of their Celtic League match against Aironi on Saturday April 23rd. Leinster Rugby Squad Training, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
19 April 2011; Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt and Brian O'Driscoll during squad training ahead of their Celtic League match against Aironi on Saturday April 23rd. Leinster Rugby Squad Training, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Joe Schmidt has a reputation for being merciless when it comes to reviewing previous matches with his players - and even Brian O'Driscoll didn't escape his surgical analysis following a mistake.

Schmidt coached the legendary Irish centre for three seasons at Leinster and another year with Ireland, during which time they won two Heineken Cups, a PRO 12 title and a Six Nations championship together.

However, as Luke Fitzgerald revealed on this week's episode of The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast, Schmidt let players know pretty early on that nobody would be spared in the pursuit of excellence, even Ireland's best player.

After O'Driscoll dropped a poor pass in one of Schmidt's first games with Leinster, the new coach used the moment as an opportunity to set standards in his squad.

"About four or five games in, somebody threw him an absolute daisy-cutter of a pass," Fitzgerald said.

"He dropped it. It was a slippy day and it was a really hard one to take. We were all kind of finding our feet around Joe, he was running really good training sessions. He was really firm on things.

"Brian had talked about a few things in the meeting and then Joe pulls up this clip of him dropping a pass. He just, to the group, flippantly says, 'Drico, good players take those'.

"He just turned back to the footage but the whole room, there was a collective gasp. Who is this guy? It was a great way to set out his stall. I don't think it was preplanned because Drico was like 'Jesus, that hasn't happened to me in ten years!'.

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"It became a bit of a saying for guys - 'good players take those'."

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