O’Brien still has plenty in tank, says O’Driscoll

Kuwait Times - - Sports -

DUBLIN: Sean O’Brien has been rav­aged by in­juries in the past four years but the flanker would be one of the first names on the Ire­land team list for Ir­ish leg­end Brian O’Driscoll who de­scribed his coun­try­man as a “real leader”.

O’Brien-known as ‘The Tul­low Tank’ for his bul­lock­ing runs-makes his lat­est come­back for Ire­land against Ar­gentina at Lans­downe Road yes­ter­day. It is al­most a year since the 31-year-old farmer-a star for the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions in their 1-1 se­ries draw with world cham­pi­ons New Zealand in 2017 — pulled on the green jer­sey, co­in­ci­den­tally against the same op­po­nents.

Hip and shoul­der in­juries left him kick­ing his heels as the Ir­ish se­cured the Six Na­tions Grand Slam and then a 2-1 Test se­ries win in Aus­tralia. How­ever, his for­mer Le­in­ster team-mate O’Driscoll, while ac­knowl­edg­ing the back row has a deep well of tal­ent for head coach Joe Sch­midt to call upon, says O’Brien is the one player would se­lect in a cru­cial match.

“Dan Leavy’s been great last sea­son, Josh (van der Flier) has been ex­cel­lent this year and Jordi Mur­phy’s done noth­ing wrong,” com­mented O’Driscoll, speak­ing at a me­dia event or­gan­ised by Guin­ness in Dublin.

“But when ev­ery­one’s fit I still like Sean O’Brien as my open­side start­ing for a World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal against who­ever it might be. “He’s rated, he’s got re­spect from those he’s played with and against.” O’Driscoll, who un­der Sch­midt

at Le­in­ster won two Euro­pean Cups along­side O’Brien, said the flanker is some­one who leads from the front. “He’s a real leader, you can hear his voice on ev­ery ref cam, ev­ery scrum, ev­ery ruck, he is lit­er­ally bark­ing away,” said O’Driscoll.

“He’s a Du­ra­cell bunny, he just does not stop. That brings a con­fi­dence. When some­one’s able to ver­balise for 80 min­utes, you know they’re fit. “The first thing that goes is the chat. I think he’s a ter­rific player.”

O’Driscoll, Ire­land’s record try scorer with 46 in 133 ap­pear­ances, says that see­ing O’Brien’s name on the team sheet gives a con­fi­dence boost be­cause of his com­bat­ive qual­i­ties. “There’s some in­tan­gi­bles with Seanie, I think the con­fi­dence he brings when you see his name on the team sheet,” said O’Driscoll.

“His ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing done it be­fore and de­liv­ered, there’s not too many bad games that Sean’s ever had. “He is so con­fronta­tional and so ag­gres­sive that there’s no back­ward step with him.”

O’Driscoll, who ex­pe­ri­enced the joys of a Six Na­tions Grand Slam with the 2009 team, says that O’Brien is not just a wreck­ing ball break­ing up op­po­nents plays. “It’s com­fort­ing see­ing that with one of your lead­ers, one of your lead­ing ball-car­ri­ers, a guy that’s de­struc­tive but also has re­ally de­vel­oped his skill-set,” said the 39-year-old for­mer cen­tre.

O’Driscoll, who has forged a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a pun­dit since re­tir­ing, ad­mits O’Brien does not only deal roughly with op­po­nents. “He’s the sort of player that if you rub up the wrong way he could do se­ri­ous dam­age to you in train­ing,” he said. “Those sorts of play­ers are al­ways fright­en­ing to have in your en­vi­ron­ment, but you’re so thank­ful that they’re on your side. And I think that says it all.” — AFP

Brian O’Driscoll

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