Ireland will pin their Grand Slam hopes on captain fantastic Brian O’Driscoll in Edinburgh on Saturday, with team manager Paul McNaughton adamant that the center is playing the best rugby of his career.

Man of the match against England last time out, O’Driscoll has scored tries in each of Ireland’s three wins to date this season.

“He has had a fantastic Six Nations so far and if you asked was he going to play like that and score three tries in three matches you might have said let’s hope so,” said McNaughton.

“I think we are all pleasantly happy that he is playing in the form he is at the moment, especially in the big game against England.

“What we’ve seen from Brian in the championship to date are clips of things that we’ve seen over the last five or six years. He’s had to adapt as he’s got older.

“We weren’t surprised by his form and that’s ultimately why it was decided not to change the captaincy. His leadership, ability defensively and ability to change a game are all there.”

McNaughton also praised the character of out-half Ronan O’Gara who left his kicking boots at home against England but is still a key part of the Irish team.

Ronan’s still fit and strong,” added McNaughton. “He had a bad day against England and he was the first to stand up in the dressingroom afterwards to apologize to the guys.

“His apology wasn’t accepted really because they know what can happen. I think its business as usual with Ronan.

“I don’t think any of the players or the management have any doubt that when we really need Ronan, he’ll be there.