Even though Paul O'Connell might actually be another form of super-being, this week he recalled an incident from his international debut, which serves as a reminder of how even the most iron-clad players are vulnerable to the effects of concussion, which has been a major talking point in recent months.
In conversation with Don McRae, the Ireland skipper recalled how his first cap, against Wales in 2002, was soured by taking an accidental elbow which left him unable to remember his try, or much else from the 54-10 rout.
"I scored a try but I don't remember it. I went to tackle Craig Quinnell and he knocked me clean unconscious with his elbow. I played on for another 25 minutes, scored a try and then, eventually, with seven minutes left in the first half, I came around. I didn't really know what was going on and so I walked off the pitch. The doctor came over and he was asking my phone number and holding up his hand and saying how many fingers. While he was questioning me I looked up at the clock as it was counting down. It said 2 minutes 19. I told the doctor: 'Mick, I'm not coming off after 2 minutes 19 seconds. Mick said: 'There's 2 minutes 19 seconds left of the half. You've played the whole half. You scored a try.' I argued with him: 'I didn't score a try. You're only saying that to get me to come off.' That's when he said: 'Look, you're not going back on.' I saw the video later and I did score but I have no recollection of it."
Not as devastating as O'Driscoll's mandatory retirement last autumn against the All Blacks, the incident is a reminder of how the player is often completely clueless as to how disoriented, and potentially endangered, he/she actually is.
Regarding Ireland's chances in this year's edition, the Munster leviathan remains upbeat, but concedes that luck with injuries remains a massive factor in determining success.
"The standards are there. We just have to hit them week in, week out and we haven't always done that with Ireland. The one time we did was in 2009 when we were injury-free and that played a massive part in our winning the grand slam. But I think the team we've got going into this tournament is just as good. I feel really confident about our chances."