BRIAN O’DRISCOLL INSISTS he is not allowing thoughts on his rugby “afterlife” to interfere with his Six Nations thinking but he does not see himself coaching next season.
Ireland’s most capped player, and leading try-scorer, will hang up his rugby boots in May but does not see himself, in the short-term future, following teammate Leo Cullen into coaching.
O’Driscoll said, “I genuinely haven’t got to thinking about it. The coaching thing, at the moment, doesn’t really float my boat.
“Before Christmas, I started thinking too much about the afterlife but there’s no rush. I’ll enjoy this Six Nations and hopefully the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup — not see out the season and hopefully win some silverware. When it’s all done and dusted and the boots are hung up, I know there will be plenty of time in the summer to figure out what the next plan in life is.
I don’t want to look back in a year’s time and regret not having given this time everything. That’s why I’m focusing solely on my rugby and all other thoughts are put on the backburner.”
O’Driscoll is enthused about Cullen’s move from Leinster captain to forwards coach, a role he will occupy from next season. “It’s important that we get some Irish coaches,” he said, “because we have some good thinkers of the game. Leo is definitely one of those. Physically, he might not be in the same condition be was a few years ago but, because he’s so smart as a player, he identifies short-cuts and I think he will have a lot to offer from a coaching perspective.”
O’Driscoll shares a joke with Joe Schmidt and Leo Cullen. INPHO/Dan Sheridan
The centre was asked for his take on Schmidt’s coaching style and if it altered with his three-season stint with Leinster. He commented, “He’s brought a lot of the traits we’ve seen at Leinster in the last few years into the [Ireland] set-up. That’s what brought him to the job here, because he brought some success to the province.
“Like all good coaches, he is trying to evolve. He’s a big thinker of the game and I don’t know anyone that would do more analysis on ourselves, and on the opposition, in the coaching world than Joe Schmidt. He has an insatiable appetite for the game. You can see it on the pitch and the training park.”
In his final season as a Test match player, O’Driscoll has found a kindred spirit with an eye for detail and a drive to unlock the opposition. A successful Six Nations would ease Schmidt’s path to the 2015 World Cup while O’Driscoll walks off into an afterlife that is sure to have him answering an avalanche of calls from clubs, countries and media athletes.