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O'Driscoll demands big finish

Brian O'Driscoll has urged his Ireland team to finish a disappointing RBS 6 Nations on a high by spoiling England's Grand Slam party.

The Irish will equal their worst performance since Italy's admission into the championship 11 years ago should they lose at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. But O'Driscoll insists that preventing England from completing their first clean sweep since 2003 would provide a satisfactory conclusion to the tournament.

"This is a chance to finish this topsy-turvy Six Nations on a high, hopefully with more wins than losses," he said.

"We wish we were involved in a Grand Slam decider with England but that's not the case. Instead we'll just get on with it and treat it as another chance to produce the performance we feel is in us and to try to get one over a very impressive England team.

"It's definitely a huge opportunity for us to leave this Six Nations with a good taste. We don't play another game until August and it's always nice to leave the international rugby season on a high."

O'Driscoll is the only survivor from the starting line-up thumped 42-6 by England in the Grand Slam decider staged at the old Lansdowne Road in 2003.

Leading England that day was Martin Johnson, who is now the manager of a team on the brink of lifting their first piece of meaningful silverware for eight years. Even if they fail to complete the clean sweep, their healthy points difference means they are almost certain to win the title.

O'Driscoll, who on Saturday will equal South African John Smit's Test captaincy record of 76 games, played with Johnson on the 2001 Lions tour to Australia.

"Johnno was a great leader and someone who encouraged you to follow his lead," he said. "For me he was the best type of leader - someone who when he spoke, which wasn't very often, was very much listened to.

"As coach he will have to speak a lot more, but you can be sure he will have the respect of his team because he has a good understanding of the game."


From Belfast Telegraph