O'Driscoll determined to seize his chance
March 16, 2007
Mick O'Driscoll sympathises with Paul O'Connell's disappointment at missing Ireland's vital RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy but intends to make the most of his own opportunity.
A fractured right thumb has forced O'Connell to sit out tomorrow's showdown at the Stadio Flaminio, allowing his Munster team-mate O'Driscoll to win his ninth cap.
Ireland hope to celebrate St Patrick's Day by winning the Six Nations title, with events in Paris and Cardiff also shaping the destination of the crown.
But O'Driscoll knows Italy, who have been riding the crest of a wave following successive victories over Scotland and Wales, are a hazardous last hurdle.
``Circumstances aren't great as Paul is a good friend of mind and I'm very sorry for him. He's a big loss,'' he said.
``But I have to take my chance. It's great for me to be in the team. For us it's just about us imposing our game on them and not sitting back.
``It's a big task. The Italians have won two matches in a row and have arguably the best front five in the championship.''
O'Driscoll left Munster for Perpignan in 2003 and spent a two-year spell at the French club before returning to Thomond Park.
The 28-year-old insists he improved as a result of his exposure to the French championship but admits he is still unable to displace first choice Munster locks O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan.
``At the time going to Perpignan was the right thing for me to do. I went to France and came back a better and more rounded player,'' he said.
``I see that as a good two years. Now I'm back in the fold at Munster and back in the Irish set-up.
``That's what it's all about - it's just about getting games, hopefully in the international shirt as well as Munster. I've chosen to play in Munster and I know Paul and Donncha are ahead of me in the pecking order.
``But it's definitely frustrating and it's difficult.''
O'Driscoll insists combining with Ulster hooker Rory Best in the line-out will pose few problems despite his late appearance in the Six Nations.
``We've been in camp now for seven or eight weeks and I've been stepping in and out,'' he said.
``Rory has thrown to me before, so it's not a huge issue. Anyway, I think Rory is one of the best throwers in the game at the moment.''