Wizard in Oz? Could Brian O’Driscoll be playing Down Under next season?
Plenty of people thought that the Lions Tour of Australia next summer would represent the swansong in Brian O’Driscoll’s career, but he could end up staying Down Under longer than expected.
The Irish captain will be 34 by the time his IRFU contract expires next summer and given the physical hammering his body has taken throughout his career, it was thought that O’Driscoll might exit stage left after what would be his fourth consecutive Lions Tour provided he stays fit and is selected to travel.
Writing our greatest ever player off has been a mistake made by many in the past, however, and speaking to Australia’s Daily Telegraph recently, he revealed that a move Down Under did cross his mind in the past and that he wouldn’t definitely rule out linking up with former Leinster coach Michael Cheika at the New South Wales Waratahs in the future.
“Just before the World Cup I thought about the possibility of last year maybe taking a little bit of downtime after the World Cup, and playing a year of Super Rugby,” O’Driscoll said.
“The three best teams in the world make up the Super 15, and you look at the individuals and you look at the calibre of sides and the quality of Super Rugby and the intensity of it, obviously it is a hugely high standard.”
With time marching on and with his wife Amy Huberman involved in TV projects on this side of the world BOD admitted that such a move is unlikely to happen at this stage, but that he would “never say never” either.
“I am contracted only to June, so whether I play on for another year after that, the body will be able to tell me later on this year,” he added.
“What excites me is the challenge of playing against the calibre of player you are playing week-in, week-out down there.
“That is an exciting prospect. But whether all the pieces fit, I don’t know. At this moment in time, probably not. But ‘Cheiks’ has my number, so if he wants to give me a call, he knows how to get me.
“My time might have passed on that front but I’m definitely a never say never sort of person.”
Responding to O’Driscoll’s comments, Cheika told the Telegraph: “O’Driscoll is a class act both on and off the field and I’m sure we’ll see that class from him during the Lions tour next year.
“Brian is a Leinster man through and through. Sydney is a long way from Dublin, so I’d say the only chance of him playing Super Rugby is if we kidnap him during our tour match against the Lions next June.
“I will say though he is one northern hemisphere player who I am sure would be able to be a dominant figure in the southern hemisphere tournament.”
While it is a very unlikely prospect and Leinster and Ireland fans would be sad to see him go, it would be great for O’Driscoll to have the opportunity to prove his worth to southern hemisphere audiences on a regular basis if that’s the route he wanted to take.
Whatever happens, we certainly won’t be writing any career obituaries for a good while yet.