Planet Rugby

O'Driscoll backs Henshaw as successor

03rd March 2014 17:27

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brian odriscoll robbie henshaw ireland

New blood: O'Driscoll and Henshaw

Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll believes 20-year-old Robbie Henshaw could be his long-term successor in the 13 jersey.

O'Driscoll, the joint most-capped player in Test history on 139, has been a mainstay in the Irish midfield since he made his debut in 2000.

Now set to bow out following an illustrious career, conversation has turned in Ireland as to who will succeed the 35-year-old when he retires in a few months time.

Henshaw has played a starring role for Connacht this season and O'Driscoll believes that he, along with the likes of Luke Fitzgerald, Jared Payne (who qualifies this year) and Darren Cave can all fill the void.

"Robbie is a very, very talented young lad, who is a great listener, a really good young talent, and really good lad too," said O'Driscoll.

"I think he has all the attributes to be a seasoned campaigner for Ireland for many, many years.

"And then you have the beauty of guys who have played there before in Luke Fitzgerald, someone like Jared Payne who qualifies in November.

"As 13s absolutely Robbie and Darren Cave are well-placed; we've an abundance of talent coming through.

"I think it's testament to Darren, who has not been in the frame for a while, but keeping an eye on his form for Ulster he's been playing extremely well.

"So I think we're in a good place with guys coming through, and in no time no one will remember me!"

This weekend's match in Dublin against Italy will be O'Driscoll's final home appearance in an Irish jersey, but he insists that his focus is not on the occasion, but purely on winning to give Ireland a chance to lift the title on the final weekend in Paris.

Joe Schmidt's side are currently top of the Six Nations table courtesy of a generous points difference thanks to big wins in their first two matches against Scotland and champions Wales.

"It doesn't feel any different, it's just hard: you just want to get on with it," added O'Driscoll.

"I'm excited about it being a last home game, for sure, in that it will be one to remember.

"But at the same time and more importantly it's an opportunity to put ourselves in an opportunity to win the Six Nations.

"I really won't think too much on the final games until it's done and dusted, and there'll be plenty of time to reflect on it afterwards.

"There was emotion last year; against France I did at the time think that was going to be it. But a couple of different factors convinced me to play on for another year.

"I'm not really that emotional a person, and so I won't allow the build-up to affect me. Whatever emotions you do have after that will happen organically.

"Sure aspects will be difficult and I'll be sad, but I can't wait.

"There is no individual feeling, there really isn't. I've never been one for great sentiment. There's always time to reflect afterwards, and that's the time to do it. The team is the absolute priority.

"There will be no extra emphasis made from anyone, other than an opportunity to give ourselves a final-day showdown with France."

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