Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Brian O'Driscoll needs to be removed from line of fire... for his own good

The Six Nations this season has really proved that Italy are no longer the whipping boys of the competition.

They were never a soft touch – you always know it is going to be physical.

But the mentality has been that if you can't beat Italy, then you have got to ask serious questions about yourself.

So how does Ireland prepare for the game?

Well, it may depend on what sort of Italy turns up.

If the Azzurri can produce the same intensity and physicality that was shown against England then it will be a very tough afternoon.

Do Ireland try to 'play' Italy off their feet and does Declan Kidney have the personnel to do that?

Or do you go for the physical approach?

Essentially you need both – the Irish lineout should provide a solid foundation while the scrum may come down to Wayne Barnes interpretation of the front row skulduggery.

The driven maul was one of the strongest features of Ireland's play last week – same again please.

But Ireland must be ruthless and take points and try-scoring opportunities when they come along.

Otherwsie it could be another long day.

A final point on injuries – both Luke Marshall and Brian O'Driscoll are reported to have been concussed.

If this is the case they should be withdrawn.

It used to be a mandatory three weeks, now these injuries are treated on a case by case basis. But a week is not enough.

There is a duty of care to the players.

Watching BOD take the pitch again last weekend I could not help but be concerned about his long term health.

In a post-match interview Keith Earls said 'One minute Brian didn't know where he was, the next he was back on with his head strapped up. He's a true warrior.'

The last bit is certainly true and will always remain so while we let him.

But the first should never have happened.

We need to look after our players.

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