BRIAN O’DRISCOLL HAS revealed that there is a “strong possibility” that this year’s Six Nations could be his last.
O’Driscoll, 34, missed the November Series internationals with an ankle injury but starts Saturday’s Six Nations opener away to Wales in Cardiff.
Captain in 84 of his 120 Ireland Tests, O’Driscoll finds himself back amongst the ranks after coach Declan Kidney again entrusted leadership duties to Jamie Heaslip who skippered the side in November.
Kidney has insisted his decision could help prolong O’Driscoll’s international career but the veteran centre’s contract with the IRFU expires at the end of the season.
“There’s a strong possibility it could be my last,” O’Driscoll told BBC Sport on Thursday.
“There’s every chance it’s my last Six Nations, but I haven’t really allowed myself to start thinking about finishing. If you start thinking about it too early, you’ve one foot into retirement already.
“I’m contracted until the summer and I’ll see how my body feels.”
If O’Driscoll comes through the Six Nations unscathed, he will be a leading contender to captain the British and Irish Lions squad for their series in Australia later this year which.
O’Driscoll was Lions captain in New Zealand in 2005 although he played less than a minute of the first Test after a spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu led to a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the remainder of the series.
“It would be an honour that would be too big to pass up again. I got to do it once, albeit for only 25 seconds of a Test match, so it would be nice to get another opportunity,” said O’Driscoll of another stint.
“But first I’ve got to get into a position to get myself on the tour and deserve my spot.”