‘Head is good,’ says BOD, as he prepares for trip to Rome

Brian O’Driscoll says “the head is good” but the Ireland centre will face a cognitive test today to determine if he can face Italy in Saturday’s final Six Nations clash.

‘Head is good,’ says BOD, as he prepares for trip to Rome

O’Driscoll was assisted from the field late in the 13-13 draw with France last weekend and seemed dazed after making a couple of big tackles on France’s gargantuan prop Vincent Debaty, although he later returned to the field.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Off The Ball last night, O’Driscoll said he is confident he will pass the necessary tests to meet concussion protocol.

“The head is good, I got through training on Monday and Tuesday, had a day off today (Wednesday), it will probably be a bit more vigorous tomorrow with a couple of collisions. Hopefully I’ll be good to go for the weekend,” he said.

“I’ve had a few situations like this in the past, and I’m not worried. Usually you know if you’re going to pass the fitness test or not — you might have a bit of mugginess in the head, but not this week.

“The test you have to do is unbelievably strenuous. We have a very strong medical team with Ireland, there’s no way they would allow a player to go out and play if there were any questions over his ability to play, or whether he was up to it.

“I’ll have to do a ‘cog test’ tomorrow, it’s a computer test with a series of shapes, images, numbers, memory recollection and so on. I have to score as highly as I did in pre-season; it’ll tell pretty quickly if I’m up to speed or not.”

Regarding the tackles which caused the issue, O’Driscoll added: “Vincent Debaty is a big man; they don’t make them much bigger than him, I probably could have chosen my tackles a bit smarter! For those guys, you really need to be firing yourself at their ankles.”

Inevitably, 34-year-old O’Driscoll was once again asked about the prospect of retirement this summer; many believe the Italian game may be his last in a green shirt, but again he stressed he has yet to make his mind up.

“It’s been coming a few years, that line of questioning. You get to 30, 31, and it’s like ‘When can we retire him?’ You see the likes of Ryan Giggs who is 40 next year, then you have Brad Thorn, Nathan Hines, Simon Shaw — I know those guys are all second rows, but there is an ability to look after yourself to play on longer.

“It’s taking care of your body and understanding what works for you; there’s a trust element with the strength and conditioning guys, that you’re not just trying to take the easy option.

“I’m blue in the face from saying this, but I’m afraid it’s the same answer. I’m going to wait until the end of the season and see how it feels. I know I’ve been cut a bit of slack by Leinster because they can’t replace me with a foreigner anyway, and they have said that publicly.

“With the union (IRFU), I said I’ll play the Six Nations, and see how I feel after that. I’m not lying to people, but people must be sick of hearing this by now.”

O’Driscoll admitted there is a frustration in the Irish camp after a campaign which promised much with that battling win against Wales has petered out somewhat; Ireland haven’t won since and the weekend’s big game is in Cardiff, not Rome.

However, he said morale is far higher than during similarly trying times at the disastrous 2007 World Cup, after which the former Ireland captain had sessions with spots psychologist Enda McNulty to address confidence issues.

“We’re a world away from 2007, where we are now. Players read papers, and they are being asked questions in press conferences, and when they see the negative spin and they’re not being asked positive questions, that has an effect, for sure. But collectively, you try to put that all to one side and focus on what you are in control of.

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“I’ve come across a lot of sports psychologists, but I wouldn’t pigeon-hole Enda McNulty as one. He’s more of a life coach. I’ve gone to him to organise different areas of my life and he’s given me clarity.

“Initially I went to him after the World Cup because I had a massive lack of confidence, things weren’t really happening for me so I tried to kick-start something. He reminded me of things I already knew, but made me think about them.

“I’ve never really understood sports psychology in a team setting. Individuals just end up saying things they think the psychologist is looking for — the “right” answer. I prefer one-on-one, so if I say ‘I’m low’, I’m not going to have 20 other guys going ‘Jeez, he’s low’.

“Originally in 2008 when I was chatting to Enda, it was to rediscover my form. Then I left him off for a while and went back to him, not suffering from a lack of confidence this time but I felt I needed to keep things ticking over and not wait for panic stations to take over again.”

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