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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 22 September, 2014

Ospreys clash is the first of Brian O’Driscoll’s ‘last’ big matches

The centre played his first European game at the RDS eight years ago.

Brian O'Driscoll tries to evade Northampton's George North.
Brian O'Driscoll tries to evade Northampton's George North.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL IS set to play his final Heineken Cup match at the RDS tomorrow when Leinster take on Ospreys.

The talismanic centre is in the final year of his rugby career after stating his intentions to step away from the sport at the end of this season. Leinster are set to do battle with Ospreys at the Royal Dublin Showground, knowing that a win of any kind will guarantee them a quarter final.

The odds are against Matt O’Connor’s men securing a home quarter final as they will need a bonus point win over a team that have caused them countless problems in recent years. Even if Leinster were to win, and score four tries, they will be relying on results from the other pool matches to decide their fate. A home quarter final would certainly be held at the Aviva Stadium so Friday’s clash will be the last time O’Driscoll takes to the field, in Europe, at Leinster’s home for the past nine years.

O’Driscoll was out, injured, when the Blues played their first game at the RDS in 2005 [a win over Cardiff]. He returned to the team in December 2005 and captained the side to a 35-23 win over Munster. His first Heineken Cup game at the venue arrived a month later, January 2006.

A week before his 27th birthday, O’Driscoll scored two tries on his European bow at the RDS as Leinster crushed Glasgow Warriors 46-22. The ERC describes his second try thus: “The gifted centre produced a glorious solo try in the 78th minute, which proved that he is well and truly back to his best after his recent shoulder injury.”

image

O’Driscoll celebrates one of his two tries against Glasgow in 2006. INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The bonus point win helped Leinster reach the last eight, where they beat Toulouse in France to set up a semi-final with Munster t Lansdowne Road. They ran out of steam that day as Munster overpowered them 30-6.

Ronan O’Gara — one of the try-scorers that day — believes O’Driscoll will retire at the end of the season but feels his former Ireland teammate must be tempted to play on for a further 15 months to make the 2015 World Cup.

O’Gara remarked that O’Driscoll’s wife, Amy Huberman, has the final say on his future and added he was lucky that daughter, Sadie, was too young to vote. He said, “His body will definitely be up for it. It’s whether his head is.”

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