CAVE OPENS UP; McIlroy Pal out to Make His Name as BOD Deputy
Byline: ADAM REDMOND
AS DARREN CAVE prepares to audition for the most famous No 13 shirt in world rugby, the Ulsterman acknowledges the advice he has received from one of the world's best golfers.
Tonight the 22-year-old will wear Brian O'Driscoll's jersey as he makes his Ireland debut against Canada in Vancouver (kick-off 10pm Irish time) and the Co Down man is intent on making an impression on Declan Kidney.
'With the Leinster players and the Lions missing, it's a depleted squad, but it's still a fantastic opportunity,' said Cave.
'Ireland played Canada in November and it's going to be the same Canadian team [in Vancouver], so it's a really good way to show Declan how I measure up against players who are ahead of me.'
But as Cave seeks to measure himself against the best, he claims that the gap is not always as big as it seems, and it is a belief not only shared, but proven by his former schoolfriend, 20-year-old golf sensation Rory McIlroy.
Having both grown up in Holywood, Cave and the world No 20 attended Sullivan Upper School together.
They remain close: only a few weeks ago, Cave's rugby commitments forced him to cancel their planned excursion to Las Vegas to see Ricky Hatton's bout against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand.
Naturally, Cave was 'gutted' to miss out on that trip, but he admitted that when their conflicting schedules do allow them to meet up, their careers inevitably become the focus of conversation.
'It's great to see he still has his feet on the ground and he's a terrific guy. I'm no where near the level he is,' admits Puma ambassador Cave.
'But it's very interesting to chat to him about how he finds things -- like Darren Clarke used to mentor him and now he's above him in the world rankings.
'And he's playing against Tiger Woods, so it's very interesting to ask him about it.' And while the contrast between rugby and golf is stark, there are some common themes at professional level.
'The thing I found, which I said to him, was all the fantastic players you watch on TV -- when you play against them they're usually not as good as you think,' said Cave. 'And that's something Rory agreed with me about.'
So has any player been a bit of a letdown?
'No one's really disappointed me as such, but there's been a few that have impressed me like the Stade Francais guys -- Juan Martin Hernandez and Sergio Parisse,' he said. …