Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

O'Driscoll decides to play on

Brian O'Driscoll, left, has agreed a new deal to carry on playing for Leinster and Ireland

Brian O'Driscoll will continue to play for Ireland and Leinster next season after agreeing a new one-year deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union.

O'Driscoll's contract, which was set to expire after the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia this summer, has been extended until the end of June 2014.

"I want to thank the IRFU and Leinster for allowing me the time to think about my future and discuss my options with my family," O'Driscoll said.

The decision concludes the debate over O'Driscoll's future amid intense speculation that he would retire this summer.

The 34-year-old hinted strongly during the RBS 6 Nations that this season would be the climax to his decorated career, with his fitness and family commitments having the ultimate say. But the recent appointment of Joe Schmidt to succeed Declan Kidney as Ireland's new head coach has contributed towards his willingness to play on for a further year.

"The support my family and the Irish and Leinster fans have shown me over the past few months, and indeed years, has been phenomenal and I'm now very much looking forward to one more year playing with Ireland and Leinster," he said.

O'Driscoll was a candidate to lead the forthcoming Lions tour and initially led the betting for the post at the start of the Six Nations, only for his form to dip.

He was included among the 37 players named by head coach Warren Gatland last month and is a leading contender to make the Test team on what will be his fourth Lions tour.

Schmidt, who has worked closely with O'Driscoll at Leinster, has welcomed his decision.

"It's great that Brian has agreed to continue playing. He's an inspirational player, not only on the pitch, but also on the training ground," Schmidt said. "He's played well again this season and other players continue to learn from him."

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