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Here’s why Paul O’Connell should leave Munster and finish his career with Toulon

Lots of money and lots of trophies, what’s not to like?

THE MONEY WOULD be unreal. That is one reason for Paul O’Connell to leave Munster, the only professional club he has ever played for, and move to the south of France to join the Toulon galacticos.

Paul OÕConnell Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Yesterday, the French club and Munster both denied the report in the French media that linked the Ireland captain with the move but were Paulie to declare an interest, you can be sure that Toulon’s owner Mourad Boudjellal would show up at his house in Limerick bearing gifts.

A couple of million gifts, you would think.

money

The cash would be an attraction but Paul O’Connell’s stature in Ireland means that he is already very well paid – both in salary and endorsements.

But there are reasons other than money that would make Toulon an ideal place for O’Connell to play on for maybe one season after the World Cup. Of course, his current IRFU deal doesn’t expire until the summer of 2016, meaning he would need to be released a year early, which would almost certainly never happen.

But if it did, Paulie would almost certainly excel in France. His rucking and lineout ability would be massive assets in the forward orientated Top 14 and his presence at the set-piece would help shore up the one area where Toulon have looked vulnerable this season.

O’Connell is a student of the game and you get the feeling that he would love to test himself every week in what is probably the most talent-rich league in the world at the moment. The certainty of contesting season-ending games would be big too.

Toulon have made the last three European Cup finals and are on course for their fourth straight Top 14 final. Considering who they have added ahead of next season, that run doesn’t look set to end in the near future.

Paul O'Connell Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

With the retirement of Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams, a second row partnership of O’Connell and Samu Manoa would be even more frightening than the club’s current duo.

Munster aren’t in a bad place at the moment, especially given the recent signing of All Black centre Francis Saili, but even their most passionate fan would struggle to argue that they are favourites for next season’s Champions Cup.

Would Munster fans begrudge one of their legends one season abroad to end his career? Some would probably be angry, but you would like to think the majority would wish him well.

It wouldn’t be Johnny Sexton leaving for two seasons in his prime, this would be a 36-year-old second row extending his career in one of the world’s nicest environments.

The south of France air has rejuvenated plenty of players and given their careers a second wind. Jonny Wilkinson, Juan Smith and Carl Hayman are three veterans who rediscovered their best form after showing up in Toulon.

Would it really be so bad if O’Connell commuted to Dublin during February and March as Ireland attempt a Six Nations three in-a-row?

To make any potential move easier on Munster fans, we have created a mock-up of what Paul O’Connell would look like celebrating Toulon’s fourth Champions Cup in succession (we used Carl Hayman’s body).

paulie Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Doesn’t look that bad of a fit, does it?

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