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Ireland v New Zealand
Richie McCaw hails Brian O'Driscoll
November 19, 2013
Brian O'Driscoll will know before anyone when his time is up, Richie McCaw says © Getty Images
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Critics who have called for Brian O'Driscoll to retire might eat their words this weekend, Richie McCaw says.

O'Driscoll and McCaw are set to go head-to-head for the 14th time in Dublin on Saturday, when Ireland host the All Blacks at Aviva Stadium, with the decorated Irish centre still seeking his first victory over New Zealand.

O'Driscoll's recent lack of form in his final season of rugby have prompted critics to say he should have retired either last year or after he was dropped for the third and final Test of the British & Irish Lions series against Australia in July, but McCaw, 32, has nothing but praise for O'Driscoll, whose 135 Tests places him second on the all-time list behind the 139 of former Wallabies scrum-half George Gregan.

"I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the way he plays," said McCaw, who is fourth on the all-time list on 123. "He's always been hugely competitive, which you expect from top players. Whatever people say, I know he's a classy player. We'll probably see that again soon."

O'Driscoll, who has lost the Ireland captaincy to Paul O'Connell, will know himself when it is time to hang up the boots, McCaw said.

"When you're younger, you do it easily," McCaw said. "But as time goes on, it's that desire and that willingness to go to those dark places - mentally and on the training pitch. If you can't do that properly then your own form's going to follow. I'm sure some players know deep down when that time comes."

© AAP
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