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Nice Try: Brian O’Driscoll

Nice Try: Brian O’Driscoll

Just how far can Brian O’Driscoll surpass Brendan Mullin’s original international try record (17) by? We take a look at the Ireland skipper’s initial haul of 25.

Just how far can Brian O’Driscoll surpass Brendan Mullin’s original international try record (17) by? We take a look at the Ireland skipper’s initial haul of 25.

As ever the Dublin-born midfield maestro has commanded much attention in the build-up to this weekend’s RBS 6 Nations start – from his newly-shorn locks to his permanent linkage to the Lions captaincy – but one thing is for certain, Ireland’s number 13 has always done his talking on the pitch.

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Twice collecting hat-tricks in the Six Nations, most famously against France in Paris in 2000, O’Driscoll has seemingly gone from strength-to-strength since beating Leinster team mate Denis Hickie to Mullin’s long-standing mark away to Italy in 2003, and overhauling the winger’s 23 after Hickie’s long-term Achilles injury.

And while he may not have been in scoring form of late, as evidenced by a try-less trio of autumn tests, his all-round defensive skills, attacking nous and tigerish leadership of Eddie O’Sullivan’s side – four-times Six Nations runners-up – has more than made up.

Having made his debut on the summer tour to Australia in 1999, still without a Leinster cap to his name, O’Driscoll had an outstanding millennium year – pocketing five tries in five Six Nations games and also bagging a stellar two in the 78-9 thumping of Japan at Lansdowne Road.

With added bulk, O’Driscoll is now not alone the most complete centre, breaking or otherwise, in the world, but also ranked as one of rugby’s best tacklers. His 207-lbs frame endures untold damage throughout 80 minutes, but even taking that into account, the 26-year-old has missed just one of Ireland’s 22 internationals over the past two seasons – that being 2004’s Six Nations opener in Paris (17-35).

All going well, he has another 5-6 years in him at the top level, with current New Zealander skipper Tana Umaga – who should come face-to-face with the red-shirted Irishman in June – still going strong at 31.

Whatever lies in the future, there seems no better way to chalk up a 26th touch down, and fend off the advances of Mssrs Hickie (23) and Murphy – with Leicester’s Geordan gaining on 13 – than another visit to Rome’s Stadio Flaminio on Sunday. Especially when the mercurial centre is on the cusp of breaking George Stephenson’s Irish home championship record of 14.

O’Driscoll is currently level with 1920s great Stephenson – following his 35th-minute effort (pictured, above) against the Italians in Dublin, last March.

O’Driscoll’s 56th cap will be his 24th Six Nations outing in all, and the beginning of what could be the year Ireland crack a 20-year championship famine.

“The expectation levels have risen and everyone is saying we have a great chance,” commented O’Driscoll this week.

“You have to agree. Both England and France have problems and they key factor is we play both of them in Dublin.

“We must live with the expectation. We have been working for this and now it’s up to us to deliver.”

It’s a long way from Willow Park Under-12s.


1999: Friendlies: Australia (1,2), Argentina; World Cup: USA (1 Try), Australia, Romania, Argentina.

2000: Six Nations: England, Scotland (1 try), Italy (1 try), France (3 tries), Wales; Friendlies: Japan (2 tries), South Africa.

2001: Six Nations: France (1 try), Scotland, Wales (1 try), England; Friendlies: Samoa, New Zealand.

2002: Six Nations: Wales, England, Scotland (3 tries), Italy, France; Friendlies: New Zealand (1, 2), Romania (1 try); World Cup Qualifiers: Russia, Georgia (2 tries); Friendlies: Australia, Fiji (1 try), Argentina.

2003: Six Nations: Scotland, Italy (1 try), France, Wales, England; Friendlies: Wales, Italy, Scotland; World Cup: Romania, Namibia, Argentina, Australia (1 try), France (2 tries).

2004: Six Nations: Wales (2 tries), England, Italy (1 try), Scotland; Friendlies: South Africa (1, 2 (1 Try)), South Africa, USA, Argentina.