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'It was probably the game that re-attached me as a fan again' - BOD savoured the Chicago All Blacks win

The former Irish captain relished the victory at Soldier Field.

IF IRELAND’S WIN over the All Blacks in Chicago was a seismic moment for the players on the pitch, it represented a milestone for Brian O’Driscoll in the stands as well.

Rory Best speaks to the team after winning Rory Best speaks to the Irish team after their win over New Zealand. Source: INPHO/Billy Stickland

His 15-year Irish international career drew to a halt in 2014, but the game at Soldier Field was the first one where he had been able to enjoy the simple pleasure of being a fan.

“It was a very memorable day in Chicago,” remarked O’Driscoll, when speaking at yesterday’s announcement of Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

“It was the first time I had ever gone to a game and not worked at it, played it or been injured for it.

“It was lovely to become a fan. There is a disconnect between ex-players and the team for a couple of years. You are in limbo a bit.

“It was probably the game that re-attached me as a fan again and getting genuinely excited about finally getting that monkey off our backs.”

Next Saturday sees a different setting for the same protagonists. Ireland and New Zealand get acquainted again, this time at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Driscoll is mindful of the motivation that will fuel New Zealand on this occasion.

“I was at the World Rugby awards on Sunday night and they are licking their wounds. There is no doubt they are coming ready.

“I heard a lot from them because they picked up a lot of awards. That says a lot about their team. That wasn’t New Zealand as they saw themselves ten days ago.

Philip Browne and Brian O'Driscoll Brian O'Driscoll (right) and Philip Browne at the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid launch Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“They want to put that right. We are going to see a different team. We are going to have to produce a better performance ourselves.

“There is no reason to think that we don’t have a bigger performance too.”


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That last comment is telling. Despite Ireland’s heroics last time out, O’Driscoll envisages Joe Schmidt forensically picking out flaws from the match.

“Joe would have pulled from the game apart with a fine tooth comb and he would have picked out eight or ten things that we could improve on.

Steve Hansen congratulates Joe Schmidt after the game Steve Hansen congratulates Joe Schmidt after the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It wouldn’t have been ‘let’s have a look at the great tries we scored’. It would have been about, ‘look at the errors you made’.

“System errors, defensive, lost ball, inaccuracy at the ruck. All those things. So he will plant the seed in all the players that ‘look, we could all improve by 5-10& or 15% without a shadow of a doubt.

“And if they think that and do manage to do that, we will be a handful to deal with.”

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