England v Ireland
Schmidt hails 'incredibly resilient' O'Driscoll
ESPN Staff
February 21, 2014
Brian O'Driscoll starts for Ireland on Saturday © PA Photos

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has hailed Brian O'Driscoll's durability and described the centre as "incredibly talented" and "a phenomenal professional".

O'Driscoll will equal George Gregan's Test appearance record of 139 caps when he runs out at Twickenham on Saturday. It will be the last time he plays against England for Ireland as he prepares to hang up his boots at the end of the season.

But before thoughts of retirement cross his mind, O'Driscoll will be targeting the Triple Crown for Ireland alongside their third win from three. He has shrugged off a midweek bug to take his place at outside centre for the match and Schmidt has hailed his incredible record.

"To be honest I didn't play Test rugby so I wouldn't be the best to judge, because I would think one Test would be phenomenal," said Schmidt. "Where I grew up in a black jersey it would have been phenomenal, so how you manage to amass 130 of them, I'm not quite sure how you do it.

"You have to be incredibly resilient, incredibly talented, a phenomenal professional, and there's your summary: that's Brian O'Driscoll. I think he's a very tough character, and the person he is allows him to be the player he's been, and hopefully the player he will be on Saturday at four o'clock."

And Schmidt hopes the experience in Ireland's side will see them home in what is his sixth match in charge of the national side.

"Thankfully I've got a lot of players who've drawn on a lot of experiences at Twickenham itself in the Test arena. We have very much a player-driven environment, they set the standard, I find them incredibly responsive when we're looking at strategy and what we need to deliver technically and tactically.

"But when it comes to directing and controlling the group it doesn't need to be about what experiences I've had, or what I need to bring to the table.

"It's very much their experiences, and there is a good core of experienced players there, so they can lead that and give the younger players the confidence that they've been here before, they know what it takes and they're ready to roll their sleeves up and live with that."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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