Six Nations: Earls backs O’Driscoll to carry on until 2015
Ireland winger Keith Earls is convinced the celebrated Test career of his boyhood hero Brian O’Driscoll could extend until the 2015 World Cup.
O’Driscoll will win his 123rd cap for Ireland in Sunday’s RBS Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield with his future beyond participating in a fourth Lions tour this summer undecided.
The 34-year-old centre was man of the match in the championship opener against Wales and then impressed against England a week later, suggesting he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
Staying fit remains his greatest challenge, however, after successfully returning from surgery on the trapped nerve in his neck that dogged him throughout the 2011 World Cup and an ankle operation in the last two years alone.
But Earls has seen enough to believe O’Driscoll could defy his own expectations and make the next World Cup in England in 2015.
“Brian was amazing against Wales – I couldn’t believe it,” said the Munster back, who will be making his first start of this year’s Six Nations in place of the injured Simon Zebo.
“The surgery on his neck has given him massive relief and you can see that in his body shape. Now he’s able to do weights, something he wasn’t able to do for a couple of years. It’s made a massive difference to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on until the next World Cup – he’s feeling fresh and is buzzing.
“You get goosebumps when you’re watching the video back of him play because, in my eyes, he’s one of the best rugby players to have ever walked on a pitch. His presence lifts you because you know he’s willing to do anything for you and the team. It makes you want to do the same for him.”
Ireland enter a pivotal match in their Six Nations knowing a win would propel them back into the title mix while defeat would further deflate a championship that started so brightly in Cardiff.
“We’ve got a tough test ahead of us,” said Earls. “Scotland are on a high and are performing well. They have a few new faces so are playing positive rugby. The championship is definitely there to be won as there are a lot of big games left to play. It’s still wide open.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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