Luther Burrell will seek Brian O’Driscoll’s advice at Twickenham this weekend – but only once the rival centres have battled as “enemies” in their Six Nations showdown.
England and Ireland collide in what will be O’Driscoll’s 13th and final appearance in the fixture before the decorated British and Irish Lions centre enters retirement at the end of the season.
Facing the 130-cap veteran will be Burrell, a two-Test rookie from Huddersfield who has impressed in his debut Six Nations but now faces an adversary that assistant coach Andy Farrell describes as “spectacular”.
“I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be to play against Brian,” said former Leeds Carnegie star Burrell. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge and I know it’s going to be a huge challenge.
“I’m going to respect him and I’m going to honour the occasion for what it is, but for 80 minutes we will be enemies on the rugby field.
“Hopefully, come the final whistle, England will have won and I can have a chat with him and pick his brains afterwards.
“He’s a fantastic icon for the game and I’ve got the utmost respect for him. It is something when I was younger I never thought would happen, but I am going to cherish it and seize the moment.”
O’Driscoll sat out training in Dublin yesterday morning because of a bug, but is expected to return in time to spearhead Ireland’s assault at Twickenham.
The 35-year-old veteran of four Lions tours has faced Burrell twice already this season when Northampton have clashed with Leinster in the Heineken Cup.
The duel finished even with O’Driscoll producing a masterclass at Franklin’s Gardens and Burrell edging their encounter at the Aviva Stadium.
“Brian’s one of those players who’s got that X-factor. He’s a fantastic player,” added Burrell. “I’ve played against him so I’ve seen what he’s capable of.”
Burrell has made a superb start to his Test career ahead of his Twickenham debut on Saturday.
“I know what international rugby is all about, but I am under no illusions that this game is going to be another big step up,” he said.
Rotherham Titans have added depth to their squad with three new signings.
Former Sales Sharks centre Jordan Davies has signed until the end of the 2014-15 season, while fly-half Joel Hodgson and back-row Ben Morris, have both signed on a dual registration from Newcastle Falcons.
Former Rotherham player William Robinson, meanwhile, was yesterday handed a two-year ban for an anti-doping violation.
Robinson tested positive for Clomiphene, a hormone and metabolic modulator and a prohibited substance, at an out-of-competition test in July last year, the Rugby Football Union announced last night.
Doncaster Knights director of rugby Clive Griffiths has signed a deal that will see the Welsh coach remain at the National One leaders for a further two seasons.