It's now or never admits O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll admits the knowledge that this will be his last World Cup has strengthened his resolve to help Ireland overcome Australia.
The crucial encounter of Pool C will be staged at Eden Park on Saturday when the Irish hope to give their ambitions of reaching the knockout stages an enormous lift by beating the Wallabies.
The stakes have generated a sense of urgency in 32-year-old O'Driscoll, who knows major occasions will become increasingly rare for a player entering his twilight years. "Games like these are huge and for me personally, knowing this will be my last World Cup, it's even bigger," he said.
"But as much as we know the enormity of the game, there's no point putting pressure on ourselves. We must still enjoy it. The occasion to shine is against the best teams in the world and Australia are ranked two in the world.
"Why not take the opportunity now, it might not present itself again? I'm excited about the prospect of taking Australia on. All of the hard work that I have put in over the last 10-12 weeks culminates in this. It's now or never, and hopefully it's now."
O'Driscoll knows Australia well having played against them 13 times, three of them for the Lions. Since making his Test debut against the Wallabies in 1999, he has been on the winning side against them on just three occasions.
However, the Ireland skipper refuses to place them on a pedestal.
"This is a very good Australia side," he added. "Any team that wins the Tri Nations is a force to be reckoned with. That speaks for itself.
"As a team you back yourself on the achievements you have and the medals in your pocket. Fresh in Australia's minds will be their victory in the Tri Nations and they have drawn confidence from that.
"But we must have belief in our own quality and on our day we feel we are capable of beating anyone. We have to make sure that our performance is up there with some of our best in recent years. We can't allow Australia to play and must impose ourselves on them."