Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll to return for NZ tour

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:21 04/04/2012
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GOING STRONG: Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll says he has no immediate plans to retire.

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Veteran Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll looks set to return to the international stage against the All Blacks, saying he has no plans to retire and takes inspiration from the ageless Brad Thorn.

O'Driscoll is back in action for his Leinster club after missing the Six Nations because of shoulder surgery and looks a certainty to lead the struggling Irish on their three-test tour of New Zealand in June.

The 33-year-old has returned to the European club scene to find a new team-mate in Thorn, the tough as teak lock. Thorn hung up his All Blacks test jersey after winning the World Cup last year at the age of 36.

But he's still going strong at 37, playing for Leinster on a three-month deal granted by his Japanese club Fukuoka Sanix Blues.

"There is no need to be putting a time limit on anyone," O'Driscoll said when the question of his playing future was raised in an interview with Skysports.

"If they are in good form, their body is feeling good and they are mentally in a good place then I think you play on as long as possible. Just ask Brad Thorn.

"I'm not in a place at the moment where I am going to worry about how long I play for. Right now I am enjoying my rugby. We (Leinster) are where we want to be.

"We are top of the league, in the knockout stages of Europe so I don't see any need to be putting a timeline on when I am going to finish."

O'Driscoll's comeback goes up a gear this weekend when Leinster play Cardiff in a Heineken Cup quarter-final in Dublin.

 Body permitting, O'Driscoll has no lack of motivation on the bigger stage.

A veteran of four World Cups and 117 tests for Ireland, he has yet to beat the All Blacks.

And with six tests for the British & Irish Lions next year's tour of Australia by that famous conglomeration of talent will be a major lure.

Ireland play the All Blacks in Auckland (June 9), Christchurch (June 16) and Hamilton (June 23).

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- Fairfax Media

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