Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 18 April 2015

RBS 6 Nations: Mathieu Bastareaud looks up to Brian O'Driscoll

France's Mathieu Bastareaud
France's Mathieu Bastareaud

France's man-mountain midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud admitted to having been a Brian O'Driscoll fan from a young age.

"I remember when I was younger, I watched him on TV and today I played in his last game. Good luck to him," the Toulon centre said.

Asked if O'Driscoll is the best he has encountered, Bastareaud replied: "Maybe the most clever. You watch him, his peripheral vision; in defence and in attack, good skill.

"He is very complete. His aura is very impressive."

And as for the fact that O'Driscoll has played his last international match, Bastareaud said: "I think a lot of players will be happy today!"

"I think will I play him again in two or three weeks," he added – a reference to Toulon's forthcoming home Heineken Cup quarter-final date with Leinster.

The holders' battering ram agreed that Toulon v Leinster will be a huge game.

"Yes, maybe the final before the final!" he joked. "Two big teams. I think it will be a big game. There will be a lot of good players on the field. A lot of people will watch this."

When asked if he will try to run through or over O'Driscoll in that shoot-out, as was the case in the opening minutes on Saturday at Stade de France he smiled: "Poor me!"

And his take on that France v Ireland battle?

"For us it was a good game," the powerful number 13 said.

"We played with a lot of intensity, but in the end the Irish won. For me it was a pleasure and an honour to play against Brian O'Driscoll, because for me he is my reference as a centre, along with Tana Umaga."

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