Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

O'Driscoll weighs up role as Ireland captain

The likelihood of Brian O'Driscoll ending his five-year reign as Ireland captain has increased greatly after he stepped down from the same role with Leinster yesterday.

Second-row Leo Cullen will captain the Magners League champions this season with coach Michael Cheika saying O'Driscoll is now free to concentrate on his game having led the province for three years.



And he may be allowed the same latitude by Declan Kidney after the Ireland coach hinted earlier this month that a change in captaincy may be made before the November internationals, with Munster's Paul O'Connell the leading candidate to take over.



Alternatively, stepping down at Leinster could rejuvenate his international captaincy, although O'Driscoll was giving little away on the Ireland issue yesterday.



"It's something I have truly loved for the last five or six years and it's something that I still have great ambitions towards," said the 29-year-old.



"But I certainly want to be playing the right style of rugby, as I was as captain, and that's the challenge.



"The captaincy isn't something that concerns me at the moment. There's a long way to November and all I can concentrate on doing is going out there and trying to get back to the standard I expect from myself."



The 2005 British and Irish Lions captain led Ireland on nine occasions before taking over full-time from Keith Wood after the 2003 World Cup but has struggled with injury in recent seasons. Yesterday's announcement increases the likelihood of a similar move with Ireland, which would allow O'Driscoll to channel all his energies into rediscovering his best form ahead of next summer's Lions tour to South Africa.



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