Brian O’Driscoll has all the attributes to forge a first-class coaching career, according to Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.
O’Driscoll brought down 15 glorious years of international action by guiding Ireland to a first RBS 6 Nations title in five years with Saturday’s 22-20 victory over France in Paris.
O’Driscoll squared the circle for Ireland’s first win in France since the stunning 2000 hat-trick that announced his arrival on the world stage.
Even before Ireland’s Six Nations triumph, bookmakers had O’Driscoll installed at 16/1 to coach the British and Irish Lions to a series win before 2030.
The 35-year-old Leinster stalwart has already tried to play down a quick-fire move into management, but Ireland head coach Schmidt remains confident O’Driscoll has all the qualities for success.
“I think he’d be good at whatever he does, in the short term that’s probably house husband, but in the long term I think he’d make a great coach,” said Schmidt.
“He’s intelligent, he’s got great values, and he is hard-working, he’s a great role model for people and he knows the game inside-out.
“Certainly I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Schmidt said he has no plans to try to draw O’Driscoll into his coaching staff for Ireland’s assault on the 2015 World Cup.
“To be honest at the moment our coaching team is functioning really well,” he said.
“I haven’t really thought about that, so I’ll think about it and come back to you.”
Number eight Damien Chouly thought he had stolen victory for France, racing across the line late on, only for the video referee to rule a forward pass from prop Vincent Debaty.
Jean-Marc Doussain missed a straightforward penalty to boot, before Ireland won a turnover in their own 22 to close out the edgy result.
Schmidt admitted his overriding emotion after a testing Six Nations was relief, at being able to meet the “growing expectation” of the Irish public.
“I’m just incredibly relieved, because there was a growing expectation, probably from that last game in November (a narrow defeat to New Zealand in Dublin), that we could maybe do something a little bit special,” he said.
“It’s a massive relief to get to do it. I think losing at Twickenham was a bit like winning in Paris: we lost by the skin of our teeth there, and we won by the skin of our teeth in France and that’s the nature of playing the big teams away.
“But to come to France having won here once in the last 42 years, to win a championship, it’s a dream come true really.
“It was work ethic and unity that carried us home, and I thought we saw some trust in each other on Saturday that’s developed with the group that’s been there.
“And they have earned the right to be champions I think.
“We’ve never sat back and thought we had a talented group, we’ve never said we’re capable, we just said we’ve got to work hard to get our nose over the line.”
Schmidt challenged Ireland’s stars to ensure their bump back to earth, and the reality of club action, does not coincide with a drop in standards.
Ulster eased past Scarlets 26-13 at Ravenhill in Pro12 action on Friday night, Paddy Jackon’s try brace sparking the victory.
Wing Tommy Bowe was also on the scoresheet, with Schmidt mindful a successful Six Nations will not stop him changing a winning starting line-up in future.
“I suppose we’ve just got to make sure our players maintain the standards they’ve set,” said Schmidt.
“They will go back to their provinces, roll their sleeves up, we are very open selection-wise, and there’s an expectation that they will continue the form they have shown over the last eight weeks.
“I think it was even evident on Friday night, it was great to see Paddy Jackson out there at Ravenhill, scoring a couple of tries and Tommy doing the same thing.
“Those guys will keep pressure on the guys who have numbers one to 15.”