Ronan O’Gara has vowed to continue his battle with Jonathan Sexton for the Ireland out-half jersey for at least two more years.
The Munster out-half dispelled any talk of quitting, describing calls for his retirement as "a joke given my record over the last few years."
O’Gara, 35, said: "I love playing for Munster; I love playing for Ireland. Anyone who knows me knows I’ll be the first to call retirement when my time is up. I can assure you my time ain’t up. In fact I have never felt better about my rugby. I’ve never worked harder and I am as committed as ever.
"I plan to play for my country until I’m 38 but definitely until I’m 37. Playing is what it is all about. To walk away would be to do myself a disservice. I’d be cheating myself because I know that I’m still good enough to start and win these games.
"Even calls for my retirement... what a joke given my record over the last few years. Being frank, I’m fitter now than I was five years ago."
O’Gara cited the example of Paulo Maldini, who was named Champions League defender of the year when he was nearly 40, as proof age is but a number.
"I’m not retiring. I’m not even close to retiring," he insisted. "Age is just a number. Paulo Maldini won European player of the year when he was 39 years of age. Did anyone question his ability and commitment? And Paul Scholes is still bossing matters in midfield for Manchester United and he is well into his 30s. Like I said age is only a number and I will continue to prove that."
This story courtesy of the Irish Examiner