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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

BOD spectre still looms at Carton House 8 months on...

Could the number 13 jersey be retired? Could pigs fly?

THE BOOK IS out, the dust has settled, the body finally gave up.

It’s long past time we allowed Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad to get on with their day without wondering precisely how much they really miss Brian O’Driscoll.

BT Sport Brian O'Driscoll TV Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Instead, though, TV broadcasters trying to sell Ireland’s fixtures to a non-Irish audience need footage of BOD-chat to fill a big catch-up montage of where we left off in the last episode of Irish international rugby.

“Has there been much talk of it?” Conor Murray responded when posed with a theory that he might spend his next international cap gazing into midfield and thinking how odd it is not to have a former captain there. It was a genuine question. Players move on faster than the rest of us, so this is ancient history.

“We had all that chat last year throughout the whole season – November, then the Six Nations, then the long farewell.”

He continued, managing to allow only a slightly bemused smile slip out before he dutifully straight-batted with all the usual aul’ guff:

“So I think we’re pretty much used to that now and there are opportunities there for lads to fill that famous jersey. There is pressure to that, but they’re going to have to try to be their own player and not get too bogged down by the number of the jersey.

“It’s something the public will probably talk about. But we have our squad here and we know what we’re trying to do.

“We know Brian’s gone. We’re not wallowing in that too much.”

That, you might think, would be the end of that. Yet even after Murray assessed the respective chances of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne the spectre of the BT pundit was raised again for the benefit of a five-second snippet of whimsy after lunch on Sky Sports News.

Could Drico have been afforded the same honour as Johan Cruyff at Ajax, Roberto Baggio at Brescia, Trevor Linden at the Canucks or Warren Sapp at the Buccaneers?

Could that number 13 jersey have been retired?

Ah come on now, lads…  but team manager Michael Kearney is too polite for a flat no:

It’s not something they’ve ever considered, but if there was one player or one number that you would consider it for, then Brian would be the perfect person to do it. But it hasn’t been discussed or considered.”

Obviously, is as guilty as anyone for keeping the spotlight on O’Driscoll after his retirement, but only when it comes to matters relating to the man himself.

The world’s most capped player in history deserves to be feted — so we actually had a big going away party during and after the Six Nations in March. Then there was the slightly lower key shindig after he limped off eight minutes in to the Pro12 final.

Ireland – the nation and the squad – have had almost eight full months to get their heads around the prospect of O’Driscoll moving on and Joe Schmidt is in the middle of his second international window without him.

The men who are next in line to fill the jersey is a much more intriguing and relevant topic. So it’s time to close the book, give up the ghost and keep jerseys one to 15 in the starting line-up.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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