Planet Rugby

O'Driscoll still has it - Kiss

09th November 2013 07:13

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No dip: Brian O'Driscoll

Ireland coach Les Kiss believes that Brian O'Driscoll remains one of the world's premier outside centres at 33.

With O'Driscoll's future uncertain beyond the end of this season, Ireland's most-capped player lines up alongside Gordon D'Arcy against Samoa in Dublin this weekend.

When asked whether O'Driscoll still has the skills to be considered as one of the best in the world, Kiss had no doubts in his response.

"I think Brian has to be considered one of the best 13s in the world, without a doubt," Kiss told the Press Association.

"There are certainly some guys around the place, like Conrad Smith, who has been really consistent lately. But I don't think Brian falls off the edge in any area at the moment.

"He's committed to everything, in terms of his preparation he's brilliant, his game, when you saw him come on for that first game this year, he was sublime.

"His skill-sets are still there, and his appetite for it is still there. I don't think you could disagree with that statement.

"Over time, carrying a few injuries, those things always have their part to play. But the true champions of the game, the true warriors that survive, they find other elements of their make-up to improve on, or to adjust and adapt to what the demands are.

"He's still one of the most physical 13s at the tackle, he's a handful in that area: he's like another number seven out in that backline.

"That appetite has never waned, and the way he runs his running lines and works with supports around him and his nice subtle passes he can use that open spaces for others, are things that have improved even more over the last five years.

"He always had it, but I think it's something he's made sure he's been able to hone even further to make sure he stays right at that top edge."

O'Driscoll missed parts of Ireland's final training run before facing Samoa, but is scheduled to start. The move, according to Kiss, was simply a pre-caution to help maintain the 33-year-old's conditioning.

"Brian's closing in on 130 Tests, he knows his body," added Kiss.

"He gets the feedback he needs. We've got the medics and the strength and conditioning guys keeping an eye on the GPS data, he keeps an eye on how he feels. Those decisions are made through logic and through the way that he feels about himself.

"He knows when he's right, he knows if he can run, so he just felt right to sit that part out.

"It gave us a chance to run a different combination in that captain's run. Certainly some of the more experienced players, we can rely on their feedback in terms of how they feel."

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