Fear of "slowing down a bit" in retirement led Brian O'Driscoll to undergo brain tests 3 years ago

Fear of "slowing down a bit" in retirement led Brian O'Driscoll to undergo brain tests

Those of you tuning into ITV today will be in little doubt about Brian O'Driscoll's mental faculties.

A sharp and opinionated pundit, the retired Ireland centre will guide viewers through the issues ahead of Ireland's Six Nations opener with Wales at the Aviva.

However, when he retired in the wake of the successful 2014 Championship, Ireland's most capped player feared he was "slowing down a small bit". He feared it enough to get a battery of neurological tests carried out.

That the former captain and four-time Lions tourist was so concerned about the effect a decade-and-a-half of top level rugby had on him may resonate with a couple of the players taking the field today.

Both Johnny Sexton and George North have been sidelined under doctor's order following multiple concussive injuries and O'Driscoll - who took several blows to his own head across the course of his career - does fear for his former Ireland and Leinster team-mate Sexton.

"It would be preferable if Johnny didn't have them [concussions] for a period. It gets highlighted because he is the poster boy of Irish rugby," said O'Driscoll in an interview with the Sunday Times.

2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales 18/10/2015 Ireland vs Argentina Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with Jonathan Sexton  Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"Johnny would give out to me for saying this but I wish he would sort out his tackle technique. I think that is an issue and that it the reason why that he is finding himself in those head collisions because he is very chest-up."

Even if he is just echoing what Shane Horgan and others have already said, Sexton may take such advice from O'Driscoll with a pinch of salt. This is the man who barrelled into Springbok monster Danie Rossouw without a thought for his own safety on the 2009 Lions Tour.

The same man had to be helped from the Aviva pitch in 2013 after being run over by Vincent Debaty.

But all these collisions did play on O'Driscoll's mind when he retired 18 months ago.

"After I finished I felt I was slowing down a small bit. I just felt as though my coordination wasn't quite the same, so I went and got a load of neurological tests and scans just to be sure," O'Driscoll told David Walsh. "Excuse the pun but it was all in my head.

"When you are doing something for 15 years and then you stop for six months of course your coordination is going to be down a fraction."