Tuesday 12 December 2017

O'Driscoll vows to keep going as Kidney keeps faith for Wales

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND centurion Brian O'Driscoll yesterday vowed to play on for as long as his body and form will allow, declaring: "I'm not chopped liver yet."

The 31-year-old Irish captain wins his 100th cap for his country against Wales at Croke Park on Saturday as coach Declan Kidney makes one alteration to the 22 that accounted for England at Twickenham in their last Six Nations outing.

And O'Driscoll, who won his first Irish cap under current Wales coach Warren Gatland in 1999, says he is enjoying his rugby as much as he has ever done throughout his career.

"We'll try and play for as long as the body and mind (allow) and the coach still thinks that you have something to offer," said O'Driscoll, who led Ireland to the Grand Slam last year.

"I am really enjoying it. It does make things easier for you and it makes you enjoy it that little bit more when we have that taste of success.

"But you do get selfish and I do know that there is an end-line somewhere in sight, so it's about trying to attain as much as possible in that remaining time."

A calf injury means Wales are without captain Ryan Jones with Gareth Delve selected at No 8 in his stead while line-out specialist Luke Charteris is named in the second-row with Lions Test hooker Matthew Rees included after his injury absence.

Veteran openside Martyn Williams takes over the captaincy duties and both Gatland and Williams paid tribute to O'Driscoll yesterday with the flanker describing his three-time Lions team-mate "as the best player in the northern hemisphere in the last decade" and his former coach equally effusive.

"I gave him his first cap and it was an honour for me to be involved with him with the Lions last year to see how he's developed," said Gatland.

"Brian has got natural flair, is a good passer off both hands, got a step and fantastic pace. He would most definitely be in most people's World XV of the last decade.

"He deserves all the accolades and I'll be the first to stand up in the coaching box on Saturday and clap him."

The one change to the Ireland 22 sees fit-again Rob Kearney come onto the bench for Andrew Trimble, after missing the England match, as Geordan Murphy holds onto the full-back jersey.

Murphy looks set to commit to Leicester for the remainder of his professional career after revealing that the Tigers have offered him a three-year deal to stay with the club he has played for since moving to England in his teens.

"I've been offered a three-year deal with Leicester and I'm talking about that with them at the moment," said Murphy.

"It's a nice vote of confidence. It will bring me on to 35."

Irish Independent

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