Brian O'Driscoll And Paul O'Connell Both Reveal The Toughest Opponents They’ve Faced - Ruck

Brian O’Driscoll And Paul O’Connell Both Reveal The Toughest Opponents They’ve Faced

Ireland legends Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell have both opened up about the toughest players they respectively faced in their illustrious playing careers.

Both the Leinster superstar and Munster captain amassed an incredible amount of silverware en route to establishing themselves as two of the best rugby players of all time.

The only player who features on both of their lists is England’s legendary fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

See who they picked out as their toughest opponents below:


5. Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

  • Position: Centre
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Caps: 103

Known initially more for his braided hair and eyeliner, he added passing and kicking to his raw line-breaking power to become one of the great centres, capping his Test career with that superb World Cup final try.

Brian O’Driscoll SAID: “Same height as me [5-foot-11] and still 16-stone. Probably the most complete centre in the modern game.”

DID YOU KNOW? Nonu became a vegetarian while playing in France for Toulon, citing his son Michael as his motivation

4. Conrad Smith (New Zealand)

  • Position: Centre
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Caps: 94

Nicknamed The Snake because of his ability to slither through the smallest of gaps and strike with a sudden burst of speed. Brought fluidity to the All Blacks midfield with his intelligent passing and vision.

Brian O’Driscoll SAID: “I thought Smith was always one of the really difficult ones. He was nicknamed ‘Snake’ I think because of his hips and it doesn’t look like he’s going that fast but jeez, he can travel.”

3. Richard Hill (England)

  • Position: Flanker
  • Country: England
  • Caps: 71

Able to excel right across the back row, he was a pivotal figure on two Lions trips and an England World Cup winner.

Brian O’Driscoll SAID: “Richard Hill, England No.6 that won the World Cup in 2003. He was a brilliant teammate but he made that team tick, he was the unsung hero in that world cup win. He was hard! I always liked playing with guys that were nails in the team, that really stood up and never took a backwards step.1

2. Yannick Jauzion (France)

  • Position: Centre
  • Country: France
  • Caps: 73

Brian O’Driscoll SAID: “Jauzion was just incredible and was so hard to stop, with his offloading ability. France built so much off and around him. 6-foot-4 and probably 17-stone.”

1. Jonny Wilkinson (England)

  • Position: Fly-half
  • Country: England
  • Caps: 91

Brian O’Driscoll SAID: “Even to just get a snapshot of what his mind works like now and how he thinks about things is pretty eye-opening as to what sort of detail he went into as a player,”

“He’s an out-and-out perfectionist, he just needs that 10 out of 10. I don’t think you ever achieve it and I think he beats himself up about it, but he got pretty close to 10 a lot of times.”