Heineken Cup: I’m ready to get to grips with O'Driscoll
Darren Cave will relish a confrontation with the legendary Brian O'Driscoll rather than fear it in Saturday's Heineken Cup final.
Like every other person involved in rugby, the Ulsterman has great respect for the Leinster and Ireland star, but Cave is calm about the prospect of the two going head to head at Twickenham.
If O'Driscoll, as expected, overcomes a niggly injury, he and Cave should wear the number 13 shirts for their respective sides.
“I've played against him a few times and enjoyed it,” says Cave.
“I don't have him up on a pedestal but at the same time when he ran in that hat-trick of tries for Ireland against France and when he performed so well for the Lions in Australia — I think I was only 14 then — I thought he was the bees-knees, especially with him playing in the same position as me.
“I'd be surprised if he is worried about playing against me, but I'm looking forward to it. It's a great challenge.
“Hopefully Paddy (Wallace) and myself will be playing at centre and (Gordon) D'Arcy and O'Driscoll will be playing for them.
“Between them they have maybe got 200 Irish caps and Paddy and I have got about 30. Everyone will be expecting them to show us how it's done but we'll see what happens on the day.”
In the victories over Munster and Edinburgh in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup, the defence of Cave and Wallace excelled, but the former believes the pair and indeed the rest of the backs can show at Twickenham they have more to offer than just the ability to tackle.
“The one thing that has been disappointing from the quarter-finals and semi-finals is that I don't think we have shown what we can do going forward,” says Cave, with a determined air about him.
“We have shown that we have guts and that we can tackle but since we beat Leicester in the group game at Ravenhill, I don't think we have really clicked in attack from myself and Paddy's point of view.
“Yes, we are making our tackles but we feel there is a bit more to us than that and that's collectively across the whole back line. So, hopefully we can put another strong performance together in defence, but also by showing more in attack we will be hard to beat.”
Having played rugby most of his life, Cave's opinion is worth listening to when asked about what makes Heineken Cup holders Leinster such a special side.
“The thing that sets Leinster apart is their breakdown,” he says. “They obviously have got that X Factor class but the key to them is their breakdown. They mess up opposition ball and make it easier to defend because the ball is not coming out quick and at the other end they do the opposite.”
Cave has played at Twickenham once before, but in rather different circumstances. It was in a winning Ireland A side against Scotland A in the Churchill Cup five years ago.
You get the feeling he is relishing his second visit that little bit more.
“In the quarter-final the Munster crowd was the biggest I'd played in front of,” he added. “That was a cauldron. Then the semi-final at Aviva was the biggest and now the final will overtake that. They are the favourites, but we are not scared of them. We are 80 minutes away from achieving our goal and that is exciting for all of us.”