Brian O’Driscoll On Why He Couldn’t Wait To Get Out Of Rugby “Quick Enough”

Relief.

Legendary former Ireland, Leinster, and Lions centre, Brian O’Driscoll has opened up on the final months of his professional rugby career in an open and frank discussion with the Guardian’s Donald McRae.

O’Driscoll is widely regarded as one of the best ever to lace a pair of rugby boots but has revealed he couldn’t wait to get out of the game after 15 years at the very top.

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The 43-year-old felt that he was lucky to get out of the game relatively “unscathed” with his reputation still intact as he lifted the Six Nations title with Ireland in his final season.

“My initial feeling when I left rugby was I couldn’t get out quick enough because I knew I was massively on the wane,” O’Driscoll said.

“But winning the Six Nations was a fairytale ending.

“I was so relieved, getting out unscathed, but also that my reputation was intact. People were looking for more and the upside are the parties and the cool stuff.

“You come round to the next season and you think: ‘Well, playing international rugby is better than that.’ That’s when retirement sinks in.”

In a follow-up chat on his regular slot with Off The Ball, O’Driscoll went into detail about his life after retirement with some very interesting comments…

“It manifested itself in just becoming a bit of a sloth. I trained quite hard in the first six months after I retired just because the lads thought I was going to be as big as a bus,” O’Driscoll explained.

“I thought I better try to keep that away. Then I just kind of packed it in and had myself fooled and ate badly and probably, not excessively, but I drank a little bit more. At times you wouldn’t have been able to as a professional.

“I was busy at times but other times I’d just be kind of plodding along and really struggling for major purpose. Then, it’s not that it was a eureka moment… going on holiday and the catalyst of seeing an album my mum put together of us.

“I was disgusted at what I saw of myself, the ex-athlete. So that began as the major catalyst to probably getting my act together physically and feeling a little bit better and going and training a little bit more.

“Then the positive snowball effect of that means you eat better, you drink less, you just look after yourself a bit more. I think you’re in better form naturally.”