Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Ireland can benefit from O’Driscoll absence

The news that Brian O’Driscoll is to be ruled out of rugby for the next six months due to surgery comes as little surprise.



Considering the way he has played for more than a decade and the punishment that his body has taken, it is more of a surprise that we haven’t heard this news sooner.

For the player, it might be enormously frustrating but in the long run I believe it will benefit all parties — and above all O’Driscoll himself.

All of this, of course, is based on the assumption that BOD makes it back to full fitness.

However, the fact that he was able to play — and play well — with the injury for so long suggests that is more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ he makes a full recovery.

It further reinforces his already concrete reputation as a true rugby warrior.

For Ireland, it poses a question which should have been addressed well before now — what happens post-BOD?

Suddenly, someone else should get an extended opportunity in the green shirt.

With Keith Earls currently injured, the door is wide open and Heineken Cup rugby is the perfect stage to put one’s hand up for selection.

For O’Driscoll himself, it could be a win-win situation. Firstly, the time of recovery will also allow the rest of his body to get over the years of physical attrition, and mentally he will be fresh and chomping at the bit to get back into action.

He has stated his goal of ending his career after the 2013 Lions tour.

Without these six months out, he may actually have had less chance of achieving this objective.

For me, this enforced rest actually improves his chances, and it would be a brave man to bet against arguably the greatest player in Irish rugby not to have his final stand out in Australia.

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