Thursday 22 March 2018

O'Driscoll: World Cup was a missed opportunity

Brian O'Driscoll trudges off the pitch following Ireland's defeat to Wales in the Rugby World Cup
Brian O'Driscoll trudges off the pitch following Ireland's defeat to Wales in the Rugby World Cup
David Kelly

David Kelly

Injured Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has joined Ronan O'Gara in expressing his regret at the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales, revealing that he struggles to "think about it" two months on from the gut-wrenching loss.

"I kind of look back on just a massive missed opportunity," said O'Driscoll. "I don't really allow myself to think about it too much, because I don't know when again an Irish team could have the same route into a World Cup final.

"But we just didn't do it on the day and I think they peaked. They played their best against us in that quarter-final. And you know that's it in knockout football when you get to that stage.

"It was just a huge, huge anti-climax, because we felt as though during the group stage we had gotten ourselves in a good place to really push hard. And then when you get into a semi-final, I think all bets are off -- it doesn't matter about form, it's just about the teams that turn up. Unfortunately we didn't get to taste that."

O'Driscoll did, at least, have the consolation of collecting his second Heineken Cup winners' medal this year after his side's extraordinary Cardiff comeback from 22-6 down against Northampton Saints.

"I remember at half-time Jonathan Sexton stepped up and said, 'teams come back in sport the whole time'," O'Driscoll told Newstalk's Tom Dunne, retelling the now storied tale of those dressing-room dramatics.

"He made reference to his beloved Liverpool in the Champions League all those years ago, 3-0 down at half-time, and he said, 'listen, that's what will make it all the more special'.

"So I suppose that was one of the bits of half-time that I certainly took on board. And then he went on to score 28 points, so you know, if you're going to make a comment like that, you might as well back it up with a few actions. I think he was saying it for himself."

Though currently injured, O'Driscoll said he was enjoying his occasional role as water-boy for his Leinster team-mates.

"The great thing about being water-boy when you're involved, if you've only got a couple of weeks out of the game, is you know you can still mentally keep in there. But when you know you're going to be out for six months, it is a much more difficult task.

"I'm sure when I'm back up properly running and able to carry things again, I'll get back into my role. It's one step closer to playing, and if you can have some involvement like passing on messages or just giving encouragement, it's good.

"Having played for a lot of years, I think when someone hands you your water bottle, you have to realise -- sometimes, don't say anything!"

O'Driscoll is currently rehabilitating from a shoulder operation he had last month and is hoping to return to action before the end of the season.

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