Six Nations 2014: Ireland v Italy - Irish put title push ahead of Brian O’Driscoll farewell
Saturday 08 March 2014
Brian O’Driscoll’s emotional final international appearance in Dublin will not hinder Ireland’s Six Nations title quest, according to Jamie Heaslip.
The Ireland squad formed an impromptu guard of honour for O’Driscoll as he trotted out for yesterday’s captain’s run training session at the Aviva Stadium prior to today’s farewell in the team’s penultimate Six Nations match with Italy.
O’Driscoll will also break Australian George Gregan’s 139-cap Test appearance record today, but as Joe Schmidt’s side can still claim the title, despite their 13-10 defeat to England, No 8 Heaslip knows the team will focus on that more than paying homage to the iconic centre, who retires this summer.
“I think he was just milking it there to be honest,” joked Heaslip of O’Driscoll’s captain’s run reception. “We were just cold waiting for him to get out and take the picture! It wasn’t planned, but I’m sure it will be an emotional day for him and his family.
“He’s given so much for Ireland and for his team-mates, and I’ve been lucky enough to be his team-mate for the last eight years. So I feel extremely privileged. But it’s weird, there’s no talk of it amongst the players. He’s approaching it like any other game, and to be honest that’s what you really expect from a man of his calibre.
“It might be a bit emotional for him, but he’s been in a lot of games like this, where it’s potentially his last game at home. For us it’s not an issue, and for him I can’t imagine it would be either.
“He’s approached the game the same as always. He looks as sharp as ever, he’s as focused as ever, he knows exactly what he’s doing. There’s still a lot to be playing for, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on now.”
Italy have chosen not to risk highly rated back-row duo Sergio Parisse and Alessandro Zanni, hoping both will be fresh for their final-round clash with England in Rome.
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant