Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Driscoll admits he is still not at his best

The maths is simple. Brian O'Driscoll (pictured) has played 10 minutes short of two matches to this point of the season. By his own admission, he needs "four-to-five" matches to reach 100pc match fitness.

"I would be more confident if I played more than 150 minutes. It really takes you four of five games to start playing your best stuff. I will be looking to kick that off a game earlier and try to play my best at the weekend," he revealed.

By then, he should be ready to give his best form. Shockingly, Leinster could be at that point, more or less, out of the Heineken Cup and so far off the pace in the Magners League that it would leave the rest of their season idle.

It is apparent that O'Driscoll is not a fan of the Player Welfare Programme. OK, there is an argument for protecting players from their nature to battle. But there is also a time to let these 'dogs of war' off the leash.

"It is difficult. It is frustrating. It was hard in the first game. It was 20-all against Cardiff. It is not easy," he said, alluding to the fact that he was hauled off when the match was in the melting pot. "Even when you lose a game, if you've been out there on the pitch, at least you felt you've had a say in the matter. It is hard sitting on the sideline and feeling as though you could be helping your team out."

Leinster will certainly be in need of the world-beating O'Driscoll tomorrow. Instead, they will probably have to settle for an imitation -- O'Driscoll -- the man working towards 100pc of O'Driscoll the player.

"I've always felt the more games I play, the more match fit I get and the more in touch with game speed I am. Hopefully, that will build again this weekend."

For the moment, the flicks, the tricks and the match-defining plays that separate him from most others are less likely to be replicated at a time when he is searching for top form.

"You can't worry about doing anything too fancy. It is about doing all the simple things really well. The new rules are all about the speed of ruck ball. If you make that quick, defences don't have time to set and you get front-foot ball," he said.

Of course, Munster presents a unique problem that will take some solving. It won't take an Einstein to figure it out. The battle has to be waged. The metres have to be made. "It should make for interesting viewing. We have to, at least, match them for physicality, if not try to go one better. It is a case of switching your head on and making sure you win those collisions when you are with the ball or without.

"A big amount of the game is physical. But, a huge amount of the game is mental. The belief in yourself and that will to win -- you can't put a number on that. It is either in you or it isn't. We'll see on Saturday evening whether we have it," he said.

At present, it does seem as though O'Driscoll is 100pc content with his form. If he is not in tune, Munster will scatter Leinster to the four corners of the Aviva Stadium.

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