Ireland may never see the like of stalwart centre Brian O’Driscoll ever again, according to prop Mike Ross.
O’Driscoll brought down the curtain on 15 stellar international years as Ireland claimed the RBS 6 Nations title in Paris.
The 35-year-old signed off on his Ireland career with neat symmetry, swiping a second Six Nations title at the scene of his stunning 2000 hat-trick.
Ireland’s second win in Paris in 42 years handed them the title on points difference, Johnny Sexton running in a brace and Andrew Trimble also claiming a score.
Tighthead prop Ross paid heartfelt tribute to Leinster and Ireland team-mate O’Driscoll, whose world-record 141st and final international appearance proved a fitting farewell.
“The man deserves every accolade that comes his way: he’s been an absolute legend for the team for the last 15 years,” said 34-year-old front-rower Ross.
“One of the most impressive things for me is that his level never drops - can you remember the last time he had an off game?
“That sort of talent is very rare, very special, and if his equal comes along in my lifetime I think we’d be lucky to see him.
“The feeling when the final whistle went, it’s feelings like that you play for.
“It’s the first time for many of us to get any silverware with Ireland, so it’s very special.”
Lock Devin Toner said there was precious little talk of O’Driscoll’s big farewell leading up to the France clash - because there was no need, with everyone well aware of their duty to send him out on a high.
“Joe (Schmidt) mentioned it just briefly, in our team meeting,” said Toner.
“He said he’s obviously one of the greats to pull on the jersey, and it will be awesome for us to do it for him.
“It was in the back of our minds but we never really talked about it, and to be honest we didn’t need to.
“I’m just delighted for him and for his family, to go out on a high on the international stage, and for him to finish like that as a player.
“It kind of all came together in the end for him didn’t it?
“It was a great send-off in the Aviva last weekend, and a great send-off here, and I’m delighted for him.”