/ Rugby

O'Driscoll hopes club success can benefit Ireland as they face the All Blacks

Updated: Sunday, 20 May 2012 23:09

Leinster easily overcame Ulster at Twickenham
Leinster easily overcame Ulster at Twickenham

Brian O'Driscoll believes the first all-Irish Heineken Cup final can only have a positive effect on his next big mission - tackling world champions New Zealand. 

Ireland will head to All Blacks country for Test matches in Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton next month. They have never beaten New Zealand in 24 previous attempts, but Ireland's dominance of the Heineken Cup this season, providing both finalists and an additional quarter-finalist, should at least see them travel in confident mood.

"Having two provinces in the Heineken Cup final is great," Ireland captain O'Driscoll said, after he played a key role in Leinster's 42-14 Twickenham drubbing of Ulster.

"And we have to use that confidence and channel it in the best possible way for the tour down in New Zealand.

"We have one more game to focus on with Leinster, and then we will be in camp and switched on to the job of travelling down there and hopefully getting our first win against New Zealand."

O'Driscoll, despite undergoing minor knee surgery earlier this month, delivered another inspired performance on the big occasion as Leinster cut loose to win their second European title of coach Joe Schmidt's reign.

It was a third Heineken triumph for them in four seasons, while their New Zealand lock Brad Thorn became the first player in rugby history to win a World Cup, Heineken Cup and Super Rugby title.

"We are encouraged to play - that is a philosophy of Joe's," O'Driscoll added.

"He wants us to go out, express ourselves and play a good brand of running rugby. It has been a good fit since he's been here. That is the way the lads want to play."

Asked what drives him on, 33-year-old O'Driscoll said: "Medals and trophies.

"It is about being selfish and wanting more now. The pleasure of being involved in this group is knowing how hungry they are, and we will go out to defend the title next season as we did this year.

"The feeling in the dressing room was one of elation, but it was different from the other two cup final wins because it was not so tense in the last 10 minutes.

"Joe did mention how Northampton were in a commanding position against us in last season's final and we managed to turn them over, and we were adamant that would not happen to us."

Leinster became the first team since Leicester 10 years ago to successfully defend the Heineken Cup, and if they make it a hat-trick next term it would equal Toulouse's record of four European titles, although their successes came between 1996 and 2010.

"When we won the Heineken Cup for the first time we talked about laying down a legacy and doing something for us to be remembered by," O'Driscoll said.

"We are going some way to doing that and moving in the right direction, but I know this team is hungry for more success.

"It is enjoyable day in day out going into work because you know you are going to be pushed by the guy next to you. We play for each other and that showed out there.

"The energy from all 23 players was phenomenal. There were two try-scorers among the guys who came on (as substitutes) and that speaks volumes for where we are at as a squad."

O'Driscoll missed the tournament's pool stages while he recovered from shoulder surgery that also ruled him out of the RBS 6 Nations Championship this season, and he paid a glowing tribute to Leinster's unsung heroes.

"I only came in for the knockout stages," he said. "But the hard graft was done in the pool stages by people like Eoin O'Malley, who is sitting at home having had a cruciate ligament operation on Friday.

"This medal will be part his and all the other guys who have played this season."