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Burrell to face 'icon' O'Driscoll

Luther Burrell will seek Brian O'Driscoll's advice at Twickenham, but only once the rival centres have battled as "enemies" in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown.

England and Ireland collide in what will be O'Driscoll's 13th and final appearance in the fixture before the decorated British and Irish Lions centre enters retirement at the end of the season.

Facing the 130-cap veteran will be Burrell, a two-Test rookie who has impressed in his debut Six Nations but now faces an adversary that assistant coach Andy Farrell describes as "spectacular".

"I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be to play against Brian," Burrell said.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I know it's going to be a huge challenge.

"I'm going to respect him and I'm going to honour the occasion for what it is, but for 80 minutes we will be enemies on the rugby field.

"Hopefully, come the final whistle, England will have won and I can have a chat with him and pick his brains afterwards.

"He's a fantastic icon for the game and I've got the utmost respect for him.

"It is something when I was younger I never thought would happen but I am going to cherish it and seize the moment."

O'Driscoll sat out training in Dublin on Tuesday morning because of a bug, but is expected to resume practice on Thursday and will spearhead Ireland's assault on Twickenham.

The 35-year-old veteran of four Lions tours has faced Burrell twice already this season when Northampton have clashed with Leinster in the Heineken Cup.

The duel finished even with O'Driscoll producing a masterclass at Franklin's Gardens and Burrell edging their encounter at the Aviva Stadium.

"Brian's one of those players who's got that X-factor. He's a fantastic player," Burrell said.

"I've played against him in the Heineken Cup so I've seen what he's capable of - he's very dangerous.

"He's got a lot of flair in his attacking game, he's good over the ball, he can kick well, he's got a good off-loading game and defensively he may not be the biggest guy but he doesn't miss many tackles."

Burrell remains puzzled that O'Driscoll was controversially dropped by Lions head coach Warren Gatland for the climatic Test against Australia last July.

"I was wondering why like everybody else and still to this day nobody really knows why. I didn't for one second think that it was deserved," he said.

Burrell has made a superb start to his Test career, topping strong performances against France and Scotland with a try in each match, and his Twickenham debut for England awaits on Saturday.

His switch to outside centre from inside, the position where he plays for Northampton, has been effortless and the 26-year-old is forging a strong partnership alongside Billy Twelvetrees.

"That first cap over in France was quite daunting because it is a huge spectacle," Burrell said.

"They are a very passionate crowd and when we walked out of the tunnel they were whistling and booing, so it was quite daunting. I'm very happy that I managed to get that out of the way.

"I know what international rugby is all about but I am under no illusions that this game is going to be another big step up."


From Belfast Telegraph