Six Nations
Kidney backs O'Driscoll to bounce back
ESPN Staff
January 18, 2013
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll reflects on his side's defeat, New Zealand v Ireland, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, June 16, 2012
Brian O'Driscoll has recently returned from a three-minth injury lay-off following ankle surgery © Getty Images

Ireland coach Declan Kidney is confident that the forthcoming Six Nations will not be the last to feature Brian O'Driscoll.

Kidney opted to name No.8 Jamie Heaslip as his captain ahead of Ireland's opener against Wales in Cardiff on February 2 despite O'Driscoll's recent return to fitness following ankle surgery that sidelined him for the end of year internationals.

The decision not to re-appoint O'Driscoll as captain, a role he has performed in 84 of his 120 Test appearances for Ireland, has been viewed by some as the beginning of the end of the centre's international career. But Kidney is not convinced and expects the soon-to-be 34-year-old to bounce back from the disappointment and raise his game once more.

"This is not Brian's last Six Nations, not at all," Kidney told the Irish Independent. "Brian will play on as long as he is able to and maybe this will help extend that period."

With O'Driscoll fighting for full fitness and also highly unlikely to be part of the squad at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Kidney has opted to look to the future in the form of the 29-year-old Heaslip while giving the his provincial team-mate the chance to concentrate on getting fully fit.

He added: "Sometimes, as a coach, that's what your job is, to make the calls you feel are at the right time for the player, even though the player mightn't agree with you. That's basically the job, there are not too many ways of saying it, but it is very tough."

Kidney accepts some may see it as a gamble and is prepared for any criticism that may come his way. "I just consider what is right for the Irish team. Other people will make their decisions. I suppose that is the great thing about Irish sport - people will have their opinions on it," he told TheScore

"...Anyone who knows me would know it is not a decision I would make lightly. There are a lot of things about it. I'm just trying to look after Brian here and, if I am wrong, I'm wrong for trying to look after a player."

Kidney's own future is also undecided with the former Munster boss reportedly out of contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union at the end of the Six Nations. "Right now I'm loving what I'm doing," he told the Irish Independent. "It's a huge honour to do it. I never look too far ahead. I'm really just looking forward to the Welsh game and the Saxons game. As long as I'm enjoying it, well, let's see what happens."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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