The Irish Mail on Sunday
Fergus doubly determined not to sing the Blues as
FERGUS McFADDEN insists he won’t get emotional in the pre-match dressing-room next Saturday. He’ll stroll in, make a beeline for where the No 14 shirt is hanging and won’t get hung up thinking how it will be his last time going to work with the legend seated alongside.
Brian O’Driscoll has made the No 13 jersey his own for 15 years and if Leinster were into gimmicks, they might retire their departing star’s number in the same way Toulon are looking to put Jonny Wilkinson’s No 10 shirt out to pasture, a gesture unheard of in rugby.
It’s close on a decade since McFadden, 28 next month, was first acquainted with O’Driscoll. Fresh out of school and a new recruit to the Leinster sub-academy, he can’t recall with any great accuracy his first encounter with the retiring star.
‘I would have met him in and around training. I don’t remember the very first meeting. It would have been in the Michael Cheika era, me coming up having the odd session with the first team.
‘He has always been friendly. Thankfully I’ve got to know him a lot better over the last few years, but coming up through school he was certainly a player I looked up to and idolised a bit.
‘It would have been strange [meeting an idol] but not awkward. You grow up pretty quickly in a rugby environment that is really good for camaraderie and friendships. I have built that with the likes of Brian. It’s a key component to any successful team.’
So comfortable is McFadden in the presence of greatness he mischievously tweeted his thanks to the Aviva Stadium crowd for their standing ovation when coming on as an Ireland replacement against Italy in March (the deafening cheer had been for O’Driscoll coming off in his last home Test match).
Ireland avoided getting caught up in that O’Driscoll sideshow, clinching the Six Nations the following week in Paris, and McFadden wants Leinster to do likewise by seeing off Glasgow to become the first team to successfully defend the PRO12 title in the league competition’s 13-year history.
‘It will be emotional for him [O’Driscoll]. It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to a fantastic career next weekend but hopefully it will be on a winning note.
‘But his final game is something that wouldn’t come into his head or Matt O’Connor’s. I’m not even sure it will be mentioned [by the squad]. Everyone knows that it is there but this is a team game and we want to win the trophy for Leinster.
‘I want some silverware. The last few seasons I’ve been lucky enough to win things with Leinster and this season with Ireland. I just want to win stuff.
‘I want to look back on my career when I’ve finished and have as much silverware as possible. The finals I’ve been involved that we have lost [2010, 2011 and 2012 are ones I can’t get out of my