Irish lock Paul O'Connell has hailed the influence of Brian O'Driscoll ahead of his captain's 100th Test appearance against Wales in the RBS 6 Nation's clash at Croke Park.
O’Driscoll will become the second Irish centurion during this year’s tournament, following in the footsteps of John Hayes after he clocked up his milestone in the win against England.
And Munster and British Lions leader O’Connell admits O’Driscoll has helped raised the bar in Irish rugby.
“It’s incredible. He talks a lot about people leading by example and that’s what he does more than anyone,” said O’Connell.
“Your best player very often isn’t your greatest defender or your greatest tackler, but Brian’s biggest strength has been his defence and his ability to poach on the ground.
“He takes unbelievable punishment for a guy who would be considered a flamboyant player. He takes unbelievable punishment in the tackle and the ruck. For a team, it’s inspiring and it’s a great way to lead.
“He’s set a standard for players across the board. He’s a complete player and that’s what everybody aspires to be, the complete player both in defence and attack. That’s what Brian does for us.
“Irish rugby struggled in the 1990s and we play with a lot more confidence now. A lot of that has come on the back of Brian’s play and his own attitude.”