Sport Rugby

Saturday 18 November 2017

McCaw backing for 'classy' O'Driscoll

Richie McCaw has played 116 Tests for New Zealand
Richie McCaw has played 116 Tests for New Zealand
David Kelly

David Kelly

World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw has offered Brian O'Driscoll his support after Ireland's embarrassing defeat to Australia last weekend.

McCaw's All Blacks side will become the first team in the professional era to win every game in a calendar year should they continue their hot streak against Ireland on Sunday.

Few give Ireland a chance of upsetting the self-proclaimed "most dominant team" in world rugby but McCaw feels that with O'Driscoll in the opposition side, anything can happen.

"I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the way he plays," said McCaw. "He's always been hugely competitive, which you expect from top players around the world. I've enjoyed quite a few occasions playing against him. He's a classy player and he uses that experience when he can.

"The thing is, there's no reason why guys my age (33 next month) or older can't play well. It comes down to your absolute desire to perform. When you're younger you do it easily.

"As time goes on, if that desire or willingness to go to dark places either mentally or on the training pitch (wanes), then your form is going to follow. I'm sure some players know deep down when that time comes and some need to be told."

"I think when you're told, you know anyway. For myself, I still get a huge thrill out of it. I still feel like I can play better and am willing to train as hard as I can.

"As long as you do that, there's no reason why you can't perform. But as soon as those thoughts of 'maybe today I won't do it' start happening, that's probably the time. I don't know whether it's the coach saying that or you yourself finding out."

Ireland are resigned to being without Johnny Sexton (hamstring), while there were unconfirmed reports yesterday that Fergus McFadden broke a bone in his hand. Joe Schmidt will hope Rob Kearney and O'Driscoll can play despite picking up significant knocks last weekend.

Irish Independent

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