Brian O’Driscoll On The One Thing Ireland Are Currently Missing From Their Squad
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Former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll reckons the current squad are probably missing a “dog” like they’ve had in previous years in the form of guys like Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell or Dennis Leamy.
A ‘dog’ for those unaware of the term is a word used to describe an enforcer-like player, someone who plays on the very edge and lets the opposition know they are there at every opportunity.
Some feel that this type of player can no longer exist in the modern game and that the “dark arts” are very much dead to a certain extent but O’Driscoll disagrees. He said a ‘dog’ isn’t necessarily about being a ‘thug’, it’s more so about having that guy in your squad who is “physically imposing” and “nasty” when he needs to be.
“It’s something that I’ve always talked to a couple of coaches about,” O’Driscoll told us.
“People think there is less necessity because of cameras and a dog isn’t about being a thug, trying to throw cheap shots, it’s about being nasty and physically imposing and that’s why I always loved playing with Sean O’Brien.
“That’s why, whenever he was fit, I wanted to see him in the team, because he brought a ferociousness to everything he did. At training, but particularly in games, I’ve never seen him taking a backwards step.
“And I just wonder, do we have that level, in the best possible way, that ‘thug’ within the team that you want to throw their weight around a little bit and set out a few markers.
“We don’t have it in the second row. We’ve two great athletes but I don’t think it exists.
“A little bit in Tadhg Furlong and Cian [Healy] but not to the Sean O’Brien or Paulie [O’Connell] or [Denis] Leamy [level].
O’Driscoll reckons even with the game now having so many cameras and every single play being so closely watched it’s still possible for players like that to make an impact.
“Yeah, Seanie lived on the edge and he crossed it a few times but it was the ferociousness of everything he did,” O’Driscoll said
“It’s an attitude thing, it’s ingrained in you or it’s not. It’s a very hard component to develop.”
So what’s the issue? Where are have these players gone? Is the prep and school and academy level affecting players. Are they the new breed simply “too nice” compared to their predecessors?
“I think it’s a really relevant point, I really do. It’s something that I’ve thought about. That’s why I loved having Leamy in the team as well,” O’Driscoll added.
“He was softly spoken and very quiet and went about his business but he was an absolute animal.
“If he could he’d hurt you and it’s that, where you could get a shot and you’d really [feel it].
“It’s about playing on the line, not trying to play [dirty], this is a tough game that we play. At international level, if you get an opportunity to set out a marker, don’t miss that chance.
“Sometimes rather than waiting for it to come people have to go looking for it. That’s sometimes the difference between the real hardy boys and everybody else.”
Pictured on his home turf in Clontarf, Brian O’Driscoll has teamed up with GUINNESS to launch a host of GUINNESS SIX NATIONS experiences which celebrate a fusion of the six competing nations inspired cultures through events available to the public. The first experience on 31st January will be a hike along the iconic Howth Head followed by a meal in a local pub, hosted by former on-field rival rugby internationals, Tommy Bowe and Thom Evans. Those wishing to secure a spot on the hike should email [email protected] with their name, date of birth and mobile phone number by 23:59 on Tuesday, 28th January. Over 18’s only. For full terms and conditions and further information on ticketing and open to the public details for all experiences, visit www.guinness.com.