By Jim Stokes
Brian O’Driscoll’s comments about Ulster being a “bit of a basket case” has certainly hit a raw nerve around Ravenhill.
Departing head coach Jono Gibbes attempted to remain diplomatic when quizzed on the matter at a press conference yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 game with Munster at Thomond Park.
O’Driscoll’s comments came on the back of reports that the IRFU were keen on sending either Joey Carbery or Ross Byrne to Ulster.
Gibbes said: “I’ve seen the headlines but I haven’t analysed it a lot. A guy like that is entitled to his opinion. I don’t know in what context it was, or how it came about.”
He continued: “I don’t really know why he’s talking about with Joey Carbery or Ross Byrne. I don’t know the context of the question or what he’s after. You know people are taking the opinion from the outside of Ulster Rugby and, unfortunately, it’s a negative one. But we can’t control that can we?
“We do our best to represent the people as best we can, we do our best to put performances together out there and, win, lose or draw, hopefully, we’ve reflected a massive team effort.
“If a guy like that has played a lot of Tests wants to label us a ‘basket case’ then I don’t know what you want me to say about that!”
Gibbes said Jean Deysel will miss the trip to Thomond Park with a knee injury while scrum-half John Cooney will be monitored. Craig Gilroy, who will have served his suspension following comments he made on social media, is also available for selection.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.