O'Driscoll fends off retirement talks

Getty Images     15 Mar 2013     Getty Images

O'Driscoll, rugby union's second-most capped player alongside countryman Ronan O'Gara with 130 appearances, has been tipped to retire from the sport with his Leinster and Irish Rugby Football Union contract set to expire at the end of the season.

But the 34-year-old centre, who has featured in all four of Ireland's Six Nations fixtures thus far - including last Saturday's 13-13 draw at home to France - points to Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs as inspiration to prolong his career.

"That line of questioning has been coming for a few years," O'Driscoll told Newstalk.

"You get to a point at, 30, 31, and it is a case of when can we retire him? But now you see sports people, the likes of (Manchester United FC player) Ryan Giggs who will now be playing until he is 40, Brad Thorn, Nathan Hines, Simon Shaw, who is going to be 40 next year.

"These guys are all second rows granted but there is an ability to play on longer if you look after yourself and that's the big thing - taking care of your body, understanding what works for you, doing more in some areas than others."

However, any announcement on his playing future will be left until the end of the 2013 campaign.

"I have been answering these questions until I have been blue in the face and I'm afraid it is the same answer, I am going to leave it until the end of the season and see how it feels," he said.

"I don't feel I am under any pressure to pull the trigger on making the decision and I know I have been given a bit of slack by Leinster because they can't replace me with a centre anyway.

"And with the Union I've just said I need to play the Six Nations, see how I feel and I'll make the decision when the time is right.

"I'm not lying and I think people must be sick of this."

Ireland travel to Italy on Saturday for their final Six Nations match of the season and O'Driscoll is expected to his place on the field despite suffering concussion against France last weekend.