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Six Nations Championship

The Six Nations Championship is an annual international rugby union competition involving the top six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

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Six Nations

Ireland star O'Driscoll denies plans for retirement

Former Ireland captain keeps his focus on defeating England in the Six Nations on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 February, 2014, 2:30am

Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll said he had made no plans yet to call time on his career after suggesting recently this could be his "last" Six Nations.

Having indicated he could be taking part in Europe's premier rugby championship for the final time in the build-up to Ireland's opening match in Wales, the 34-year-old centre produced a superlative display in a 30-22 victory in Cardiff, setting up one try, scoring another and starring in defence.

O'Driscoll's Leinster contract expires at the end of the season and this has led to speculation that, if selected, the British and Irish Lions tour of Hong Kong and Australia in June could mark the end of his career.

Fitness, rather than any lessening desire to extend his 14-year test career, appears to be the biggest issue confronting O'Driscoll, who missed Ireland's November tests with an ankle injury. O'Driscoll, speaking ahead of Sunday's match against England in Dublin, insisted he had spoken about retirement ahead of the Wales match only because he was asked about the issue.

"I hadn't intended causing a stir. I was just being honest in answering a question," he said.

"I haven't really allowed myself to think about it. If you start thinking about retirement in six months' time you're already there. It will all evolve. The situation will unfold. I'll have to listen to my body," he added.

If you start thinking about retirement in six months' time you're already there. It will all evolve

Unusually, for a man who has spent the bulk of his career as Ireland captain, O'Driscoll finds himself in the ranks after coach Declan Kidney opted to entrust leadership duties to Jamie Heaslip, his skipper in November.

O'Driscoll said while he was saddened to lose the captaincy, he understood Kidney's thinking and insisted the decision had made no great difference to his game, a point he proved against Wales.

"I've read a little bit of stuff over the last while that taking the burden of captaincy away from me has allowed me to think about my game.

"I'd like to think that in the 10 years I was captain I played a few all right games as well. It hasn't changed the way I go about my business or the way I carry on around camp.

"I suppose I thought at some point the captaincy would be passed on, but I'm not going to be around for the 2015 World Cup, so it's a good opportunity to give Jamie a run in it.

"Jamie's going to be around for a considerable amount of time, albeit that didn't make the decision any easier or lessen the disappointment when I was told," O'Driscoll said.

With England beating Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham last weekend, Sunday's match is being billed as a title decider.

"They're great occasions, largely because invariably England are one of the best sides in the world," O'Driscoll said.

"You have to bring your 'A' game. It's England in Dublin and that's an exciting prospect no matter how many times you've had it."

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