INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Leinster in safe hands with Matt O'Connor, says BOD

The Ireland centre admits the prospect of another year under a new boss excites him.

LEINSTER TALISMAN Brian O’Driscoll has backed new boss Matt O’Connor to continue Joe Schmidt’s good work next season.

The current boss at the province has, of course, earned a promotion to the national team job and Leinster chief moved quickly to identify and appoint a replacement.

Fielding talk of a possible retirement all year, O’Driscoll admits the prospect of a season under O’Connor excites him too.

“I’ve spoken to Matt, I had a good chat with him and he clearly knows his rugby,” O’Driscoll said yesterday in Dublin. “I’ve spoken to a couple of people that have worked with him and they only have good things to say about him.

“He definitely has ideas on how he will change a few things but I think he is inheriting a team that has a good drive and desire to work hard and put themselves in a position to go well but we just need a bit of shape and some systems to be put in place to put us into those situations. I think he’s very capable of delivering those things on top of the work Joe has done.”

As talk returns to what happens next and he’s cross-examined for any glimmer of a decision, O’Driscoll goes through some more of the factors that come in to play: wife Amy and her own career; baby Sadie and the amount of time he would spend away from home if he does carry on; and an ageing body that sometimes needs a helping hand from a foam roller or a hockey ball to work out a little muscle tightness and get kick-started in the morning.

Like everything that has gone before in a storied career, the challenge of pushing himself to stay at that elite level is one which O’Driscoll wants to tackle head-on.

No player wants to go out on someone else’s terms. Everyone wants to go out on their own terms but the reality is that that happens to so few. Do you not play for another year in fear of that? That’s for you to balance up but I think the majority of players will always back themselves to get in teams and put their hand up for selection.

“I suppose I wouldn’t be any different than that provided I was still physically in the condition that I thought I was capable of doing a job.”

He adds: “I think it’s important to understand the mentality of guys that have gone before you. I came in to the Irish and Leinster set-up very young so a lot of my friends have gone on to pastures new.

“It’s good to pick their brains and understand how they felt on their way out, whether there was regret or whether they felt their timing was right, and trying to understand in my own head whether that’s now or next year.”

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