Brian O'Driscoll has given rookie Six Nations coach Declan Kidney the seal of approval. O'Driscoll is quite happy to take on the role of fictional game show judge just days before his team kick off the 2009 RBS season against France at Croke Park on Saturday. Handed a massive vote of confidence by Kidney when he was re-appointed Irish skipper for the new campaign, O'Driscoll is quick to repay the compliment when he claims, "Declan has the X-Factor." Ireland's on-field leader adds, "When you look at someone's track record like Declan's there is a little bit of that X-Factor there. "Teams that he has been involved with have managed to win a lot of silverware and that is not a coincidence. "We've known each other for a long, long time. I played for Ireland's under-19s under Declan and, yes, he has changed over the years. "Just as we have changed as players, so Declan has changed as a coach. He knows what his strengths are, I think he is a very good motivator and he knows how to win things." The chemistry between coach and skipper needs to be assertive when Ireland get down to the business end of the Championship against the French. Kidney is an old hand at beating French teams in the name of Munster and has two Heineken Cup triumphs to prove it. Dricco is keen for some of that silver magic to rub off. "I am hungry for silverware," admits the Leinster center just a week after he turned 30. "I carry on in this game because I still love the game as much as I did when I was 20 and first came on the scene and I am hungry to win things now more than ever. "I know when I am a retired player, an ex-player, I will look back and judge myself on what I have won, and certainly I am not happy with three Triple Crowns and a couple of Magners Leagues. "I want to strive for more and more. You get a little selfish the older you get too, you realize that time is not on your side anymore and you have to do a little bit more in the now. "But it is something that I still enjoy, going out every day and being coached and trying to better certain parts on my game. That sort of thing still drives me on." Asked if Ireland are in a better position now than they were in France at those World Cup finals, O'Driscoll's answer is telling in more ways than one. "Yeah," he responded. "I think we went through a bit of a transitional period last year and there is a freshness now with the new coaching staff who have come in which is something that we needed. "We needed new ideas, we needed a different slant on being coached. I think it is still very important irrespective of how experienced you are to hear new things from coaches. "That gives you the energy to go out and train to the best of your ability when you are learning things on a daily basis. With all that put together I would like to think we are certainly going in the right direction." Now for the French. Some nine years ago O'Driscoll was the two try hero of a famous win in Paris but the tables have been turned, often in heartbreaking fashion, so many times since his own Arc de Triumph. "They were 90 seconds from defeat in Croke Park two years ago and they won the game, it just proved to us that great sides can pull something out when it is asked of them," remembers the captain. "That was a huge disappointment but you have to use it to your benefit. As Declan has said before sometimes you learn a hell of a lot more from your defeats and we learnt a hell of a lot that day. "I would like to think that if we find ourselves in a similar situation we will be able to cope a lot better."
The Irish pub that became home base for 9/11 ground zero rescuers