O'Driscoll still leading the way

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:32
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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell says Brian O'Driscoll remains the standard bearer in the squad as he heads into his final Six Nations.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell says Brian O'Driscoll remains the standard bearer in the squad as he heads into his final Six Nations.

O'Driscoll, who turned 35 on Tuesday, will make his Six Nations swansong while coach Joe Schmidt will experience his first championship this year.

The legendary centre is set to retire at the end of the season, but long-time teammate O'Connell says he's still setting the tone in training.

"Brian is still going strong," said O'Connell.

"He is in good shape and as hungry as ever, he trained yesterday [Tuesday] and is still driving the standards, he has a lot of respect across the whole tournament but particularly in our squad."

Ireland face Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in the final match of the opening Six Nations weekend on February 2, when the home side will bid to gain revenge for last season's 8-12 defeat at Murrayfield.

They enter the championship off the back of a November series that saw them agonisingly beaten 22-24 by a last-gasp All Blacks try.

"I think we achieved a lot of things we had been working on in that game, it's difficult under a new coach, there are new ideas, new ways of doing things," said O'Connell.

"It takes a while to become second nature but after three four weeks we were hitting a good level against New Zealand, it's a shame we didn't close out the game like we should have but it gives us confidence.

"Scotland first up will be a very tough game, obviously we were beaten by them last time."

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