Former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has shone a light into the use of painkillers at the top end of rugby.

The retired centre revealed his own reliance on legal medication during the latter years of his career. Discussing a recent International Rugby Players survey on last night’s ‘Off the Ball’, O’Driscoll gave his own experience.

“I’d have been part of teams where on the way to a game, a doctor would have walked down the bus on the way to the game and enquired as to who wanted what in advance of it,” said O’Driscoll. “For me, for the last couple of seasons anyway, part of my match prep would have been a Difene and a couple of Co-codamol – again, just a painkiller if I was carrying something.

“It almost became like habit where it gave me a fighting chance if I wasn’t feeling 100pc that it might level it up.

“And that is the reality of it and I wouldn’t have been the only one doing it. It was usually the older players, just to try and almost balance the equilibrium almost of feeling okay.

“And then, I’m sure at times, in my subconscious, I would have taken it because it became part and parcel of where maybe I could have done without it.

“But again, if it’s perfectly legal and there’s no need for TUEs or any of that, it gives yourself the chance of playing your best game.”

O’Driscoll’s comments echoed those of his former team-mate Paul O’Connell who opened up on his use of Difene and anti-inflammatories towards the end of his career in his 2016 book.

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