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Wednesday 19 September 2018

I'll only Luke to future: Drico

O'Driscoll excited about Marshall and wants to forget Lions furore

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during squad training. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during squad training. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL has to deal in the here-and-now of what he is doing, holding little or no time for looking back over his shoulder at what might have been this summer.

The British and Irish Lions 2-1 test series win in Australia form another collection of memories, good and bad, to be parsed over when his career has ended.

He wants to concentrate on the Australia in front of him: "It is the second game of the Joe Schmidt tenure and it is about trying to improve on the first one. It is not about revenge. That's all nonsense.

"I played twice against them during the summer. Listen, that's gone. People need to let go on it. I know I've let go on it," he said.

O'Driscoll wants to turn away from the controversy of the summer gone and towards an Australia which looks healthier now than it did in late June, early July.

"It is about Ireland getting the opportunity to play against a team that's, more often than not, one of the best in the world.

"When you've got players like Quade Cooper willing to try things and athletes like Israel Folau and Will Genia willing to boss games, then they can make you look silly.

"When you've got guys of that calibre then they're never going to be far away from being a top side. It's just about growing the guys around them who are in the infancy of international rugby and getting them more experience.

"They'll be a superpower again very soon. They're probably not quite where they'd expect themselves to be, but they've got high standards down there.

"They are probably in a bit of a transitional period. But, they are a pretty handy team on their day. That last test against the All Blacks, they played some really good stuff.

"They're trying combinations. I think that is what this tour is about for them."

Australia are not the only ones trying out new combinations and Ireland has some growing to do as well as O'Driscoll and captain Paul O'Connell play in first-time partners at centre and second row.

O'Driscoll will not have the "telepathy" he has with longtime partner Gordon D'Arcy when he starts beside Ulster's Luke Marshall.

"I don't have that (telepathy) with Lukey yet. It is about building that in training. The more games you play together internationally, the more confident you'll get," he said.

"That is where we are at the moment. We are a work in progress. He is a very good player that will become a very, very good player.

"He is a good passer, the capabilities of offloading. He is a big unit too. He's strong. He's carrying a lot of size. He has a lot of muscle mass that can travel at a good speed.

"For someone who has good feet, he also possesses a potency when the ball needs to be crashed up. He is not a bad guy to trail".

The last season of O'Driscoll's career is all about playing for a coach and a system he believes in, to win one more time for club and country.

If that comes at his expense, then so be it. The enduring memory of an unspectacular match against Samoa was that between the legs palm to Fergus McFadden that led to Seán O'Brien's try.

The fact that Schmidt chose to see this as a moment to bring attention to a defensive misread by O'Driscoll was not lost on the centre.

"With him, it is not about the fancy stuff. It is about doing the basics well. I go through my game with him each week and try and see where I can improve," said O'Driscoll.

"That was one area that I made a bad read and compromised us a little bit. It is about buying into the team ethos under new management and new expectations".

O'Driscoll will learn tomorrow how far Ireland have come in a short space of time and how far they have to go to make his final season worthwhile.

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