Is this the end? Crocked O'Driscoll out for the season 11 years ago

Is this the end? Crocked O'Driscoll out for the season

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is due to undergo shoulder surgery next week and will be sidelined for six months as a result. Is this the end for our greatest ever player?

As a result of the impending operation on a trapped nerve in his shoulder, O’Driscoll will miss out on Ireland’s Six Nations campaign and Leinster’s defence of the Heineken Cup. Technically, he could return for a Heineken Cup or a RaboDirect PRO12 Final next May, but it is unlikely that he will be called upon having been absent for so long.

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O’Driscoll had been struggling with a shoulder problem for some time and it was clear for all to see during the recent Rugby World Cup that all was not right with the 32-year old.

The trademark bravery and aggression were still there, but he seemed to be protecting his shoulder when going into contact, a shoulder that has been put through the mill after a series of bruising performances for province and country down through the years.

The Ireland skipper admitted that having to undergo surgery was “incredibly frustrating”, but that he was doing it to look after his future well-being.

Considering the fragile state of his body in recent years, there will now be inevitable speculation about whether or not this is the end for Ireland’s greatest ever player. He had previously signalled his intention to call it a day after the Lions Tour in 2013, but whether or not a man who will be 33 in January has the capacity to recover from such a lengthy absence at a late stage in his career remains to be seen.

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O’Driscoll, however, has been written off before and has come back to prove all his doubters wrong, never more spectacularly so than in 2009, when he inspired Ireland to Grand Slam glory and was criminally overlooked for the IRB Player of the Year award.

A fully-fit O'Driscoll has plenty to offer for Leinster and Ireland and will be welcomed back with open arms if the recovery goes to plan.

If, on the other hand, he is forced to call it day, he will be sadly missed.