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Rugby | Six Nations

Brian O Driscoll © Gallo Images

O'Driscoll downplays retirement talk



Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll said he'd made no plans yet to call time on his rugby career after suggesting recently this could be his "last" Six Nations.

Having indicated he could be taking part in Europe's premier rugby championship for the final time in the build-up to Ireland's opening match in Wales, the 34-year-old centre produced a superlative display in a 30-22 victory in Cardiff, setting up one try, scoring another and starring in defence.

O'Driscoll's Leinster contract expires at the end of the season and this has led to speculation that, if selected, the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in June could mark the end of his career.

Fitness, rather than any lessening desire to extend his 14-year test career, appears to be the biggest issue confronting O'Driscoll, who missed Ireland's November tests with an ankle injury.

O'Driscoll, speaking ahead of Sunday's match against England in Dublin, insisted Wednesday he'd only spoken about retirement ahead of the Wales match because he'd been asked about the issue.

"I said it because I was asked the question. I hadn't intended causing a stir, I was just being honest in answering a question," he said.

"I haven't really allowed myself to think about it. If you start thinking about retirement in six months time you're already there.

"It will all evolve. The situation will unfold. I'll have to listen to my body," he added.

Unusually, for a man who has spent the bulk of his career as Ireland captain, O'Driscoll finds himself in the ranks after coach Declan Kidney opted to entrust leadership duties to Jamie Heaslip, his skipper in November.

O'Driscoll said while he was saddened to lose the captaincy, he understood Kidney's thinking and insisted the decision had made no great difference to his game, a point he proved against Wales.

"I've read a little bit of stuff over the last while that taking the burden of captaincy away from me has allowed me to think about my game.

"I'd like to think that in the 10 years I was captain I played a few all right games as well.

"It hasn't changed the way I go about my business or the way I carry on around camp.

"I suppose I thought at some point the captaincy would be passed on, but looking forwards I'm not going to be around for the 2015 World Cup, so it's a good opportunity to give Jamie a run in it.

"Jamie's going to be around for a considerable amount of time, albeit that didn't make the decision any easier or lessen the disappointment when I was told," O'Driscoll added.

With England having beaten Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham last weekend, Sunday's match is already being billed as a title-decider.

"They're great occasions, largely because invariably England are one of the best sides in the world," O'Driscoll said.

"You have to bring your 'A' game. It's England in Dublin and that's an exciting prospect no matter how many times you've had it."

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