Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Steve Langan/INPHO O'Driscoll had his first Off The Ball show last night.
# Mads at 12
6 things we learned from Brian O'Driscoll's Off The Ball debut
BOD sees Madigan playing at 12 and thinks some second-tier players might go abroad.

AFTER MONTHS OF waiting, Brian O’Driscoll finally started his new career in radio on Off The Ball last night. He talked with host Ger Gilroy about his life in retirement and they were also joined by legendary England second row Martin Johnson to talk about the 2001 Lions tour.

Here are six things we learned from BOD’s radio debut:

1. He misses some things about being a professional, but away days in Wales? Not so much

“I had my first pang during the first Leinster match, and it wasn’t even the game. It was when they showed the camera in the dressing room and I thought about what was being said. Back in May I was a part of that but now I am just like everyone else going, ‘Oh my God, what do you think they are saying to each other?’”, O’Driscoll said.

“People say that they tend to miss the big games rather than the Dragons away. Although, it has been about ten years since I’ve been in Newport.”

2. The group of players just under the top level might need to go away to earn the big bucks

“I think before Johnny, the IRFU might have thought they didn’t have to pay the kind of salaries that the big French and English clubs were paying. But then Johnny went and they realised that wasn’t going to work for them because then other guys would walk too. They had to pay bigger cheques to a few other guys. But there are another tier of guys who maybe have to go away to prove themselves and then come back and get those big contracts.”

3. Leinster’s culture of self-evaluation was a collaborative process

“It probably started with Cheiks (Michael Cheika) and also coincided with Leo (Cullen) and Jenno (Shane Jennings) coming back from Leicester. And a couple of us just got our heads together and said ‘we need to cop on or we are going to finish our careers with nothing.”

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4. It can be hard to separate Joe Schmidt and Johnny Sexton

“Johnny has an encyclopaedic knowledge of plays that you’ve ran. I think that is why he and Joe Schmidt get on so well, they both have great rugby brains. Sometimes you get a sheet signed ‘JS’ at the end, and you would be wondering which JS it is.”

5. He expects Ian Madigan to feature a lot at centre this season

“I really like Mads as a 12 and I always liked having a distributor at that position. D’Arce (Gordon D’Arcy) is a nice passer of the ball and when you have a good distributor there then you can bring your back three into the game more. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot of Mads at 12 this year.”

6. The test series loss on the 2001 Lions tour still haunts him

“For me the first half of the second test was the winning and losing of the series rather than the third test. It wasn’t even just Jonny Wilkinson’s pass for an intercept try, we butchered a few chances to give ourselves a decent lead at half-time.”

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