Whether it was with Ireland, Leinster or the Lions, Brian O'Driscoll was simply one of the greatest rugby union players to ever take the field. Now an analyst with BT Sport, he gave Inapub his views on the season ahead and where he thinks the best pubs in the world can be found.
For a fleeting moment, when interviewing rugby union legend Brian O'Driscoll, Inapub gets a sense of what it might have been like to line up against the fearless outside centre.
Sometimes you know the answer to a question before you put it to your interviewee, but you are looking more for the reaction.
This was the case when we innocently asked "So, Brian, where are the best pubs? England or Ireland?"
What followed was a lengthy pause combined with a stare so hard it would have made many journalists drop the ball and sprint off looking for cover.
"Undoubtedly. Undoubtedly, Ireland," he confirms, before swerving into the easy charm that has made him a hit as a TV analyst with BT Sport.
"I've had a couple of good nights out in England but you have your favourites and you go back to the same ones. I like good '80s music and a good mixed crowd. Nothing pretentious and a good pint of Guinness — what's not to like about that?"
Though the chances of you finding O'Driscoll in a pub these days are slim. He admits that commitments as a father and with BT Sport mean he is more likely to analyse games at home.
Getting together for the game
Ironically, you would have been more likely to have seen him there when he was still playing the game; not that he would have been over-indulging at the bar.
"I have never let what I do curtail what I wanted to do socially," he says. "I think you have to play smart. I have been out lots of times in my career and not been drinking and have driven home. It's the only way you are only going to see your mates.
"Sport in pubs is great, it brings people together. My friends' lives are very busy, so you have to make the time to hang out together and having just one or two pints in a pub is a nice way of doing that."
For those not in the know, O'Driscoll is one of those rare sportsmen who is deserving of the "iconic" status that is bestowed upon people far too easily these days.
He captained Ireland for the best part of a decade, making 141 appearances for his home nation and the Lions in the process. His 47 international tries make him the highest-scoring Irish player and the highest-scoring centre of all time. He won three Heineken Cups and played in four World Cups. Quite simply, he would feature in the all-time teams of most people who know anything about the game. So, when he speaks, it's worth listening.
It should be a highly competitive season ahead, with O'Driscoll believing that just like we have seen in the round-ball equivalent, it is getting more difficult for teams to dominate both at home and in Europe.
"I think it is really tough to fight on both fronts," he says. "It's very hard mentally to switch on again, because human instinct is to feel satisfaction with winning something. More often than not the difference is that appetite.
"Having said that, Sarries (Saracens) did the double the season before. There's nothing in it really, which is the way you want it. You want those cracking games and you do want [Aviva Premiership champions]Exeter getting through to the final and not having Sarries being a dominant force across all fronts, unless you are a Sarries fan."
Yet it is still Saracens who O'Driscoll expects to be the team to beat this season.
"With the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, and Mako and Billy Vunipola you have got a brilliant core of leaders there and they could be a dominant force for a good few years," he says.
He adds that Newcastle have impressed him with transfers and could push for Europe, Leicester too are looking stronger.
Either at home or in Europe, following the success of the Lions and England, interest in rugby this season should be as firm as an O'Driscoll tackle.
- BT Sport is the only place to watch rugby from the Aviva Premiership, European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup where the best teams from domestic and European rugby go head to head. For more information visit http://sport.bt.com/rugby