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No excuse for lunge at Palisson: Flannery

By David Kelly

Jerry Flannery has denied trying to use a “concussion defence” to extricate himself from the ban that ruled him out of the last three rounds of the Six Nations.

However, the Ireland hooker has confirmed that he did receive a knock on the head prior to his reckless lunge on French winger Alexis Palisson in Paris last month.

“Listen, I was given a fair hearing,” he said. “I got a lot of clarification. I can move on.

“We didn't use the concussed line, that just got picked up. It was just when I looked at the video, I'd landed on my head with my legs folded and my neck compressed.

“When I got up, I didn't realise which way I was playing or what was going on. But I never used it as an excuse. I rang Palisson and texted him.

“I said I was really sorry, that he didn't deserve to miss matches. I deserve punishment. I take it on the chin now.”

Flannery, who will make his comeback in time for the Good Friday Magners League clash with Leinster in Thomond Park, feels that Ireland are in a sound position, despite the heavy defeat in Paris.

“What we're doing at the moment is crucial, developing more strength in depth. I think we're in a really good place. I thought it was a little bit panicky after France,” he said.

“I suppose when you do lose a game there's going to be a ‘Jeez, they finally lost' in the media.

“I don't think it was a major issue for us.”

Meanwhile, Wales coach Warren Gatland has paid a glowing tribute to Ireland cap centurion Brian O'Driscoll ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash in Dublin.

Gatland handed O'Driscoll his international debut against Australia in Brisbane almost 11 years ago, and he has been thrilled by the Leinster centre's rise to world-great status.

“He deserves all the accolades, and I will be one of the first to stand up in the coaching box on Saturday and clap him,” he said.

“I am absolutely delighted for him and proud I have had an association with him. Brian has got natural flair, is a good passer off both hands, has got a step and fantastic pace. He would most definitely be in most people's World XV of the last decade.”

For his favourite O’Driscoll moment, Gatland recalls a hat-trick of tries in victory over France in Paris in 2000.

“That is my greatest memory of Brian — the hat-trick of tries he scored when Ireland beat France in Paris for the first time in 27 years,” he added. “I remember Philippe Sella coming into the changing room to congratulate him afterwards and saying it was one of the most impressive centre performances he had ever seen.”

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