Despite an impressive collective records amongst the Irish rugby greats Brian O’Driscoll (33), Ronan O’Gara (35) and Paul O’Connell (33), their days in the limelight may be dwindling.
The Irish Independent reports that the end may be near for the aging Irish rugby stars. Though still members on the national Ireland team, some are saying that their days could be numbered.
The Independent writes “his [O’Gara’s] absence from the starting line-up this Saturday, particularly if O'Connell also joins O'Driscoll on the sidelines, would have caused palpitations among an unsettled squad, whose confidence is still being scooped from the floor following the Hamilton humiliation last summer.”
Paul McNaughton, former Ireland manager, said that while Ireland has the capability to produce “genius” rugby players, it is a wonderful coincidence that the three ‘O’s all arrived on the team as colleagues: "As a nation, we haven't had players as good as O'Connell, O'Driscoll and O'Gara on the same team.”
Another famous ‘O’ - Donncha O’Callaghan - warned that each player may need to do something for themselves before going down in history inextricably stuck in the trio: "The big thing for our group of lads is to maybe do something to separate ourselves from Irish teams that have gone before," O'Callaghan said before that fateful quarter-final defeat to Wales in Wellington 13 months ago.
"For the group of players who people talk about in the last few years as being a 'golden generation', what have we done that's separated us from the rest? If you're honest, not a whole lot."
"When Brian is not fit, it's a massive blow to the side," said teammate Andrew Trimble.
"We have to make do. Brian is going to have to be replaced. He'll never be replaced unless someone is given an opportunity. Now is the chance for someone else to step up."
The Independent elaborates by writing that “With O'Driscoll absent for some time, O'Connell's fitness always uncertain and O'Gara no longer a guaranteed starter for his province or country, the rest need to step up.”
Trimble continued, “You can be worried about it, whether the guys coming in could be a liability, that guys aren't tried and trusted in certain positions, but we should look at it as giving guys an opportunity.”
"There's nothing we can do about players who are missing. We have to get on with it."
Ireland will be squaring off against South Africa this Saturday in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.