Ireland 28 Scotland 6: 'Brian Button' praised for incredible defense by coach Joe Schmidt as Brian O'Driscoll rolls back the years once more

O'Driscoll led the tackle count in the Six Nations opening victory over Scotland in what will be his final campaign

Brian O'Driscoll's ageless defensive exuberance remains a cornerstone of Ireland's RBS Six Nations power, according to head coach Joe Schmidt.

The former Ireland and British Lions captain's tireless rearguard efforts left him topping the tackle charts for Schmidt's men in Sunday's comfortable 28-6 Scotland dismantling.

Stand-in captain Jamie Heaslip and Schmidt joked O'Driscoll could almost be starting to age in reverse, just like literary character Benjamin Button.

O'Driscoll set a new Ireland all-time caps record of 129 in Sunday's triumph, but the 35-year-old will retire at the end of the season after a glittering career.

Ireland take on reigning champions Wales in Dublin on Saturday, battling against a six-day turnaround and the sheer brute force of Warren Gatland's experienced side.

Former New Zealand schoolteacher Schmidt admitted he will quite happily urge talismanic midfielder O'Driscoll to keep rolling back the years for his final Six Nations.

"If he can hit 24 next week I think we'll get the perfect blend; he's Brian Button now," Schmidt laughed.

"Brian got through his defensive workload pretty effectively, and we knew he would have to.

"He had [Scotland number eight] David Denton coming round the corner, who was a real threat for them.

"I thought he did a fantastic offensive tackle towards the end of the game, where if they'd broken the line they would have been able to have one last shot at us.

"But he took all that time and space away, wrapped the guy up, got to his feet, stole the ball.

"That's the sort of quality he brings, it wasn't just the quality of the tackle, it's the quality of what he did post-tackle that makes him great value.

"By his own standards there were a couple of loose passes, and he'll look to tidy that up.

"But again, he's a player who plays well when he's had a couple of games under his belt. So he'll be a little bit more comfortable again next week.

"You feel a little bit more under pressure to create something when you haven't had a lot of ball.

"It's a fine line balance between taking risks and pushing it too far."

Schmidt was encouraged by Ulsterman Luke Marshall's showing at inside centre in the absence of Gordon D'Arcy, who was slow to recover from a stomach bug.

D'Arcy could reasonably be expected to return to partner O'Driscoll this weekend, and Schmidt admitted Ireland must fight to contain Wales' midfield threats on Saturday.

"Anyone would have their hands full trying to stop Jamie Roberts when he comes on those real strong lines," said Schmidt.

"Scott Williams' passing really adds something there, and if Jonathan Davies is back as reported then Gats has some real options in that midfield.

"I've no doubt Wales will pick themselves up and improve, they are too good not to.

"At the same time we've got to believe we're formidable enough at the Aviva to have a real go at them."

Lions tours have taught number eight Heaslip Wales' much-vaunted power game is by no means overestimated in any quarters.

Expecting a brutal contest on Saturday, Leinster loose-forward Heaslip said: "I've played with some of them on both tours, as athletes they are big guys, they've got some serious athletes there. Some of their backs are bigger than their forwards.

"And some of their forwards are great footballers who get through a lot of work as well, carrying extremely hard.

"Wales play a simple game and do it very well, and if you get the basics right in this game you can thrive."




Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine