Brian O'Driscoll has scored 18 tries for Ireland in 41 games
Irish star Brian O'Driscoll, rated by
many as the best centre in international rugby, says he has yet to
reach his peak.
O'Driscoll, one of the major successes of the British and Irish
Lions' tour to Australia two years ago, will spearhead Ireland in
their World Cup opener against Romania in Gosford on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Leinster midfield back is rated as a "pretty
special" player by national coach Eddie O'Sullivan, but with that
comes extra attention from opposing defences.
"I was a bit of an unknown quantity at the last 1999 World Cup
... four years down the line more people now know my game, my
strengths and weaknesses," O'Driscoll said on Tuesday.
"I would think there is going to be less space for me here than
I am used to, but I just have to deal with it".
But the Irish stylist warned his rivals that he can only get
better, and is looking to produce that on the world stage in
Australia over the next six weeks.
"I hope I can reach the pinnacle of my game, I like to think
that I can improve and go on to another strength, another level... I
don't fancy hanging up my boots just yet," he said.
"I'm not putting pressure on myself to make a break, there are
some fantastic finishers in our side and my goal in this World Cup
is to put those guys into space and get them the scores".
O'Driscoll, who has scored 18 tries in 41 Test appearances, has
captained Ireland nine times, but there is no resentment
that he has to pass on the captaincy to Lions hooker Keith
Wood at the World Cup.
"The label of captain is a lot more than meets the eye,"
"There's a lot of stuff behind the scenes that no-one gets to
see and there's a large proportion of that I can hand back to Keith,
but at the same time I will still try to lead as when I was
"I'm an action rather than words kind of leader, I don't think
in that regard I'm going to change my game".
O'Sullivan knows he possesses the proverbial crown jewels in the
attacking abilities of O'Driscoll.
"Everyone around the world respects Brian as an incredible
game-breaker with ball in hand, but in recent times his game has
rounded out as well and he's also putting other people into space,"
O'Sullivan said this week.
"He's still very young, he's 24, and he's captained his country
and he's had a Lions tour here.
"He's very mature in terms of rugby but he's still a young
player, and he's got a phenomenal career in front of him.
"He's a pressure player, he does deliver under pressure which
makes him pretty special".