Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

O'Driscoll backs new caps to shine

Paddy Jackson, pictured left, and Luke Marshall impressed during last autumn's international against Fiji

Brian O'Driscoll expects Ireland's new caps Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall to thrive in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.

The 21-year-old Ulster three-quarters impressed during last autumn's non-cap international against Fiji and have been called up by coach Declan Kidney to replace the injured Jonathan Sexton and Gordon D'Arcy.

It is a bold move by Kidney, but O'Driscoll is backing his midfield partners to seize their opportunity. "The proof will be in the pudding when they get out there, but they're confident guys," 34-year-old O'Driscoll said. "I certainly don't envisage either of them freezing. They've played in big games."

O'Driscoll added: "They're going to be big game players and lots of players have been dropped into the deep end of Six Nations rugby and survived. I'd imagine they'll survive as well with no problems whatsoever."

Jackson and Marshall were just seven when O'Driscoll made his Ireland debut in 1999 and, even though he has been relieved of the captaincy, the Leinster centre knows he still has a crucial role to play in leadership terms.

"I'll try and help the guys along, offering information to Paddy and Luke," O'Driscoll said. "Sometimes when you come into the set-up it's hard to be vocal and start dominating things, but young need that from your fly-half.

"The more accustomed they are to being in that situation, the more confident they will be when it comes to ordering people around. I'll try to take a little bit of pressure off them this weekend."

Marshall revealed earlier this week that he was nine when he started watching O'Driscoll, the veteran of three Lions tours and his new centre partner.

"Luke probably didn't realise what a massive insult to me that was! It's crazy to think that you get to play with guys who were watching you at that young age," O'Driscoll said. "That's the cycle of rugby - everyone moves on and different players get different opportunities for a variety of different reasons.

"Gordon D'Arcy is out injured for the rest of the competition and that gives Luke the chance to lay down a marker and impress the coaches. I've been impressed with what I've seen from him. He's a quiet, fairly unassuming lad who works hard and listens and that's all you can ask for."

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