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BOD on McGregor: 'Over time it's very hard to maintain that lack of self doubt'
The centre also offered some clarity on why his partnership with Paul Kimmage didn’t work out.

FORMER IRELAND RUGBY captain Brian O’Driscoll has hailed Conor McGregor’s rock solid-looking confidence, but says it’s impossible to sustain over the full extent of a career.

McGregor has backed up his trash talk all the way through his meteoric rise in the UFC and has not lost since his 2010 submission to Joseph Duffy.

Speaking about his own well-documented mid-career confidence struggles on Jarlath Regan’s Irishman Abroad podcast (which will go live on iTunes and Soundcloud on Saturday night), O’Driscoll says:

“Any sportsman who says he lives without doubt isn’t even deluded, he’s a liar.

“That’s all sports people. Some people might trick themselves into thinking they’re more confident than they are but it’s impossible to maintain.”

Asked by Regan whether the (and) new UFC featherweight champ may be the exception to prove the rule, the 37-year-old birthday boy replied:

I think it’s still early on in Conor McGregor’s career. I don’t know how long a UFC career will go but if you go for 10 or 15 years – as the likes of (Lionel) Messi, Ronan O’Gara or I have done – I think over that period of time it is very very hard to maintain a really high standard of lack of self-doubt.

“It’s different in the fight game where it has to be all bravado. You have to be all front.

“No one knows the true inner thoughts of Conor McGregor. Only Conor McGregor does.

“I’d say John Kavanagh his coach, doesn’t even know that. And fair play to him if he believes everything that he’s saying, but I am sure at times, in his quieter moments, everyone has that element of self doubt as to whether they’re able to still do it.

“And it tends to come in the later years of your career when the body starts to ail slightly on you.”

Conor McGregor poses with fans at the event Colm O'Neill / INPHO Colm O'Neill / INPHO / INPHO

In a wide-ranging interview, O’Driscoll also touched on his relationship with another notorious figure in Irish sport, his would-be ghostwriter Paul Kimmage.

O’Driscoll and the journalist worked together on the basis of the centre’s 2014 autobiography, The Test. However, the final draft was left in the hands of Alan English after a disagreement between the former captain and Kimmage.

“We obviously did a couple of years, three years of work together,” O’Driscoll explains.

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“I didn’t know when I was going to retire and I wanted to make sure that it only came out when I had retired.

“An ultimatum was put to me regarding doing an interview. I had promised an interview, one of my last ones during my final Six nations, to a journalist who had been very good to me and pretty understanding and I felt that as though I owed it to him.

“I’d gotten a request from Paul to do a piece with him instead for his column and I said that I’d promised it to someone else and I couldn’t renege on that. And then, pretty much, an ultimatum was put to me that; ‘I don’t think I could continue working if that journalist was chosen ahead of me’.

“And that was it. I’m not a good ultimatum guy.”

You can find the Irishman Abroad podcast here and on iTunes.

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