O'Driscoll: Ireland youngsters must live up to expectations
March 7, 2014
Brian O'Driscoll has 139 Test caps in a glittering career © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll has called on Ireland's youngsters to live up to the standards set by his generation as he looks to break the world record for Test appearances tomorrow.
O'Driscoll, who will win a record 140th cap against Italy on Saturday, has shrugged off a string of tributes paid to him by coaches and fellow players. Instead, he says he owes much of his success to a formidable line-up of Irish teammates throughout his career.
O'Driscoll said: "Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Shane Horgan, Simon Easterby, John Hayes: they all came within six months of my first cap.
"I think we all had a big say in guiding expectation levels first of all, but performance after that, to a place where we feel it should be.
"Now the onus is on every younger guy coming through, seeing that is the benchmark, to carry that on into the future."
The tributes to O'Driscoll have come thick and fast ahead of his 140th cap. Ireland captain Paul O'Connell said O'Driscoll had single-handedly transformed Irish rugby, while Fergus McFadden hailed him as Ireland's greatest ever sportsman.
Given the physicality of O'Driscoll's game, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he is not sure how the 35-year-old has amassed so many caps. He will surpass George Gregan's 139 when he takes to the field in Dublin tomorrow.
Ever the team player, O'Driscoll has rejected these tributes. He said: "Of course [they're] over the top. I think I was very lucky I came in at a time when there was great young talent coming through.
"You see the guys that began around the same time, like Gordon D'Arcy who is still here. So I didn't make anything happen, we all did."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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