Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

O'Driscoll the greatest: McFadden

Fergus McFadden (left) has hailed the brilliance of Brian O'Driscoll.

Brian O'Driscoll is the greatest Irish sportsman of all time, according to team-mate Fergus McFadden.

Leinster wing McFadden admits he would rate O'Driscoll above every other Irish sporting legend.

From Willie John McBride to Barry McGuigan, even racing trainer Vincent O'Brien to champion jockey Tony McCoy, McFadden is adamant O'Driscoll has the edge.

Long-serving centre O'Driscoll will retire at the end of the season, and McFadden said: "We've got to cherish these last few months, big time. It's been a pleasure playing with him and obviously hopefully I'll play with him plenty for the rest of the season.

"I don't know what he's going to do next year; he keeps his cards pretty close to his chest with everyone, not just with the public.

"But it's been a pleasure, playing with him for both Leinster and Ireland.

"In my opinion he's the greatest Irish sportsman of all time."

Former captain O'Driscoll has been clear on his desire to help Ireland claim a first-ever win against New Zealand before he retires.

The Leinster centre will have one more crack, on November 24.

McFadden believes that however O'Driscoll fares this term, his legendary status is already confirmed.

"Regardless of what he does this year I think he is already at the top of the list for Irish sportsmen," he added.

"So it's been amazing to play alongside someone of that level, and long may it continue for the rest of the season.

"It would be great to have some silverware to back it up as well."

McFadden bagged a try in Ireland's 40-9 victory over Samoa on Saturday, where Leinster loosehead prop Jack McGrath impressed on debut.

McGrath helped Ireland demolish the Samoa scrum but was quick to deflect any praise.

The 24-year-old humbly explained: "It didn't feel like a dominant scrum.

"It felt like we were just hanging on in there to be honest.

"I'd never like to disrespect a scrum such as the Samoans because they are quality players.

"I thought we fought well as a pack.

"Seemingly it went well, but I didn't think it went that well personally.

"It's a great honour to be able to put on the jersey.

"It's something you dream of, a very emotional day doing it for your family and your friends.

"So you would well up and feel it building in the throat, you'd have a heart of stone if you didn't.

"I'll probably have to pinch myself about all this at some point."

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