Ireland rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll says his team are ‘hungrier than ever’ to repeat their feat of last year in the Six Nations tournament starting this weekend
Ireland waited 61 years for a second Grand Slam and now captain Brian O’Driscoll wants his side to become the first since France in 1997 and 1998 to achieve back-to-back landmarks.
The 31-year-old, who, along with venerable prop John Hayes, should reach a century of caps in the Six Nations, said that the older members of the squad were desperate to end their careers on a high note.
“If anything we are hungrier after winning silverware,” said O’Driscoll at the launch of this year’s tournament, which gets underway on February 6 when Ireland host Italy.
“I am maybe speaking for the older brigade who are nearing the end of their careers. They have been through 10 years of near misses and dejection and also some awful times, such as the 1999 and 2007 World Cups.
“I think what we managed to achieve last year [they were also unbeaten through the year rounding off 2009 with victory over world champions South Africa in November] was due reward for all those years of frustration and tears of despair.
“However, once again, it is up to us to back up words with deeds. Now is the time for doing it and not dwelling on it.”
O’Driscoll said that the team was always trying to improve.
“We are trying to get better as a side and improve,” said O’Driscoll, who also won the European Cup for the first time last year with Leinster.
“However, we don’t have to go telling the world what our expectations are.”
Irish coach Declan Kidney, who was named IRB coach of the year in 2009, said that now was not the time for assessing how far the squad had come.
“We are coming together again after a two month hiatus,” said the ex-Munster coach.
“We are of course looking to the future and what we can build together, but as regards what we have achieved already ... well sometimes it’s better to look at things after they’re finished.”
O’Driscoll said that the secret to his, and the other over-30 brigade’s longevity, was largely down to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).
“Of course it is partly down to how you manage yourself,” said O’Driscoll, whose side will have to repeat their success the hard way with away trips to France and England this season.
“We are fortunate that the Union looks after us and give us a good package. And why we have lasted so long is that we have put ourselves into the best shape possible.”
O’Driscoll does not see the Irish as going into the championship with the target of just defending their title.
“I was once told, you don’t ever defend anything, you just roll up your sleeves and try to win it again. You don’t retain anything, you give it back and you try to win it again.”,AFP