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O’Driscoll Wants More From Stellar Season

O’Driscoll Wants More From Stellar Season

Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam captain. The 2009 RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship. The joint-top try scorer in the 2009 RBS 6 Nations and top try scorer in the 2008/09 Heineken Cup. The IRUPA Players’ Player of the Year and the Supporters’ Player of the Year. A Heineken Cup finalist and Lions tourist.

You could forgive Brian O’Driscoll for feeling a tad tired after what has been the season of seasons for Irish rugby.

The above list of accolades and achievements glosses over a campaign that has been encapsulated by O’Driscoll’s return to form as Leinster and Ireland’s guiding light.

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From that defence-shredding try in the RBS 6 Nations opener against France to his interception effort in the historic Croke Park clash with Munster, the talismanic centre just keeps on lengthening that career highlights reel.

2009 has also been a memorable year for him off the pitch, turning 30 and announcing his engagement to his girlfriend Amy.

A born match winner, Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning captain has two more aims left to fulfil before he can contemplate a well-deserved summer holiday.

They are to help Leinster win the Heineken Cup for the first time next weekend and be part of a series-winning British & Irish Lions side at the third attempt.

IrishRugby.ie caught up with the player himself recently to get his thoughts on the season so far and how he has maintained his high level of performance.

IrishRugby.ie: Brian, it’s been quite a year already for you both as an individual and as part of the Leinster and Ireland sides. Have you had to pinch yourself with how well things have gone?

Brian O’Driscoll: There’s no pinching to be done, you just enjoy the moment and get on with it particularly from the Grand Slam point of view – it was the middle of the season.

It’s been one of the more memorable years, obviously with the Slam and then with the Heineken Cup final to come.

There have been some serious highs. Hopefully we can finish it off well in Edinburgh and then we have the Lions tour to look forward to as well.

When you’re sitting on your sun lounger on your holidays, I’m sure you can contemplate all you like! But now’s not the time for it.

IR: After taking some flak in the press last year, has there been some extra satisfaction in the way you’ve answered your critics or does that even come into it?

BOD: I play the game to try and get the best out of myself. People are always going to have their opinions on things but once I satisfy myself and my coaches more so and my fellow players, that’s what I get most satisfaction out of. 

I suppose a huge component of that has been staying fit. For the most part, I have had a fairly injury-free season – certainly injuries that haven’t stopped me playing which is all important!

Being able to get some continuity to your game, get some match fitness and match sharpness, that all adds up.

That’s definitely had a big say in being able to put in a couple of half decent performances this year.

IR: The way things are going, you could call this a never-ending season with the Lions tour to South Africa bringing us into July. Do you get moments to sit back and reflect on things, particularly after the Croke Park win over Munster?

BOD: It’s really an end of season thing. At the minute, you’re just trying to enjoy your days off because they seem to be few and far between.

Thankfully, particularly in the professional era, common sense prevails in that you train less coming towards the end of a season.

Coaches and fitness trainers realise that you don’t need to be slogged and put through vigarous regimes.

It’s just about topping up on fitness levels and making sure that you’re fresh going into games.

You have a bit more time to put your feet up and get on the massage bed and make sure that injuries are looked after by physios.

It’s a matter of just trying to piece together everything to make sure you’re out on the pitch for game day.