...Irish skipper Brian O'Driscoll...
See below for quotes from Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll as the build-up continues towards the final Test match of the Guinness Autumn Series.
- ON LUKE FITZGERALD -
"I think, in terms of knowing someone's footballing ability, seeingtheir soccer skills is always a good tell-tale sign. I've never seen aguy with better soccer skills - well maybe Maradona - than LukeFitzgerald.
"It's phenomenal the little tricks he does before training, he'd putyou to shame! And I think that does reflect into his rugby playingability. He's very confident and equally good passing off both sides.
It's a massively exciting time for Luke. The guy has only just turned19 and he finds himself given a chance in a Test match. It's fullydeserved, given his form this year. You would just never think the guyis still a teenager.
"He plays very well, has a great attitude and is far more mature thanyou expect from a 19-year-old. Even in this professional era, he goesfurther than the distance required. Invariably he's trying to kick offeither foot, turning up early for training and leaving training late."
- ON JAMIE HEASLIP -
"Jamie could have been capped beforehand. He had a big season forLeinster last season but he's been given his opportunity now. This yearagain, he's been a real talisman for Leinster and he's fully justifiedhis call-up. He gives you great go-forward ball and he's an incrediblyexplosive runner.
"I guess, from a Leinster perspective, there was always a real worrywhen Victor Costello retired that there was going to be a real voidthere at number eight, but Jamie came in and plugged that holeimmediately.
"He has a good football brain and he's got plenty of strings to hisbow. He's also a very likeable and exuberant character and he's good tohave around the squad."
- ON STEPHEN FERRIS -
"Obviously, I don't know as much about Stephen Ferris as the other guysbut from what I've seen in training and also playing against Ulster,I can't believe the guy is only 21.
"Paul O'Connell came back from the gym yesterday (Tuesday) and said:'did anyone see the weights that that fella Ferris was lifting in thegym?'
"He was lifting some phenomenal weights. That just shows that the guyhas really put in the work. That stuff doesn't just happen overnight.He's an excellent professional and obviously started quite young.
"Even at training he's got a great attitude. He seems quite vocal whichis great because it's unusual for a young guy like that to be as vocalas he is.
"But he seems to have all the skills as well. So these are veryexciting times, to have this wealth of talent, particularly in the backrow, is fantastic for us."
...O'Driscoll at the top table in Killiney...
- ON PADDY WALLACE -
"For a while, Paddy has been a nearly man. I played Under-19s with himand he was a massive talent back then but it never quite reallyhappened for him.
"Now he has shown great form for Ulster, he got capped against theSpringboks and he should benefit from that. There is hugeresponsibility on the likes of myself, Shane Horgan and obviously PeterStringer to help him out - to use our experience to help him through.
"Paddy is naturally talented, a lovely passer, great off either footand if he gets to concentrate on his own game, then he is capable ofhaving a great performance."
- ON HIS OWN TEST DEBUT -
"I remember thinking that it was a big ask to play against the likes ofTim Horan and Daniel Herbert, but it was a great occasion (againstAustralia in 1999). The thing is that the first time playing for your countryalways seems to fly by - the experience is over almost as soon as itbegan, so you hope that you can do something that helps your side inthe process."
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