Ireland must delay the “fairytale” ending to Brian O’Driscoll’s iconic international career by one more week, according to Jamie Heaslip.
Talismanic centre O’Driscoll will set a new all-time international appearances record with his 140th Test cap on his final Dublin bow in Ireland colours against Italy on Saturday afternoon.
The 35-year-old will then bring down the curtain on 15 glittering international years in Ireland’s final RBS 6 Nations clash against France in Paris on March 15.
Heaslip believes the only way to do justice to O’Driscoll’s career now is to send him into retirement clutching the Six Nations trophy.
The Leinster loose forward branded Saturday’s Italy clash a “semi-final”, urging his team-mates to suppress their romantic sentiment, dispatch the Azzurri and set up a title decider against France.
“The fairytale on Saturday would be nice; you’re probably not human if you can’t relate to that, it would be a nice story,” said Heaslip.
“But I think it would be an even nicer story if we were going over to France and winning the Six Nations where I suppose it all really landed for him.
“I think that’s a nice story, but to get there we’ve got to win on Saturday.
“Mick (team manager Michael Kearney) addressed it really nicely, saying it was like a semi-final for us.
“There’s nothing after this game, that’s why there’s no point thinking about points difference to be honest.
“So let’s just worry about winning and playing to our gameplan.
“But the romantic in me thinks it would be a nice story to send him off.”