herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

BOD DOUBTED HIS CAPTAINCY

'I'm not enjoying it. I'm doubting my ability'

"It won't be too long before they forget all about me".

THIS telling sentence came pouring out of the mouth of Brian O'Driscoll one morning he accidentally bumped into this journalist on Grafton Street back in July.

The only thing we had in common was that we were both there at the beck and call of our daughters, Sadie and Eve Rose.

He is a man I do not know on any level other than professional.

The words stuck like glue. He can't really be serious, I thought.

BELIEVE

He can't really believe that he will be lost in time. I wanted to turn and tell him about the place in Irish hearts occupied by Jack Kyle, Ollie Campbell, Moss Keane.

I just didn't have the words. I don't know him well enough to know if he was being candid.

That is why it came as confirmation rather than surprise when O'Driscoll opened up about the "self-doubt" that riddles his autobiography - The Test - partly serialised in yesterday's Sunday Times.

At Christmas time of 2008, his Leinster coach Michael Cheika organised a meeting with sports psychologist Enda McNulty, the former Armagh All-Ireland medal winner.

"So, where are you at, Brian? asked McNulty.

"I'm not enjoying it as much. I'm doubting my ability," he responded. It also fed into O'Driscoll's thought that he should give up the Ireland captaincy because he was not doing what he was saying.

"My captaincy is about leading by example. I don't think I've been doing that".

History reports O'Driscoll held onto the captaincy and proceeded to have the best year of his career, winning the Grand Slam with Ireland and the Heineken Cup with Leinster in 2009, the top try-scorer in both competitions.

The fact that he had overcome the negative narrative in his head meant it cut so deep when he lost out to New Zealand captain Richie McCaw for the International Rugby Board's World Player of the Year.

WANTED

"It's the one time in my life I wanted an individual award," he admitted.

It wasn't the only time he wouldn't get what he wanted. The most recent, most controversial issue for him came when Warren Gatland left him out of the Lions side for the third and final test against Australia in 2013.

The Wales pair of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts did well enough as The Lions hammered out a 2-1 series win due, in the main, to their dominant forward power.

His reaction?

"Foxy (Davies) has played well, Jamie has scored a good try. But, I've got to believe I could have had some of those moments myself, that we'd still have won with me on the pitch".

Maybe, the days of doubt had gone until his days of playing were at an end.

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