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Paul O'Connell turns down forwards coaching role with Grenoble

The 36-year-old has yet to make a decision on his future in rugby.

PAUL O’CONNELL HAS declined an offer to become forwards coach of Top 14 side Grenoble, according to a report in France.

The 36-year-old was forced to announce his retirement from playing in February due to the severe hamstring injury he suffered at last year’s World Cup. That meant O’Connell could not fulfill the two-year playing contract he had previously agreed with Toulon.

Midi Olympique, the biweekly French rugby newspaper, this morning reports that O’Connell will not take up the chance to become forwards coach of Grenoble, who are head coached by Bernard Jackman.

POC O'Connell spent a week with Grenoble in March. Source: FC Grenoble/Twitter

With Mike Prendergast – a former Munster team-mate and close friend of O’Connell’s – also at the Top 14 club, Grenoble would have been an ideal place for the former Ireland captain to make his first foray into the world of coaching.

O’Connell spent a week with FCG in March, gathering first-hand work experience as he looks towards a possible coaching career. The Munster legend also had a stint with Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins in a similar capacity.

Grenoble – who don’t have a mega-rich benefactor like several high-profile French clubs – do not enjoy the same financial clout as some of their Top 14 rivals and it appears that may have played a part in the club not being able to convince O’Connell to join.

With O’Connell ruling himself out, Midi Olympique now reports that Aaron Dundon, the former Leinster hooker, is favourite to take on the forwards coach role with Grenoble next season.

The 34-year-old was coached by Jackman at Clontarf FC, while he has been head coach of Newbridge College in recent seasons and also took control of the Clontarf forward pack for their victorious Ulster Bank League Division 1A campaign this season.

As for O’Connell, IRFU performance director David Nucifora confirmed on Tuesday that the union remains in dialogue with the ex-second row about his future in coaching.

“We’ve been chatting with Paul about what his future looks like,” said Nucifora.

PIC O'Connell watches Jackman lead a scrummaging session. Source: FC Grenoble/Twitter

“He’ll make his decision when he’s ready about what exactly he wants to do, but we’ve been in touch with Paul. We were speaking to Paul before he retired about what the future might look like.

“You don’t want to waste a resource like Paul O’Connell, he’s got a lot to offer Irish rugby going forward. We’re just working with Paul to work out the best way of utilising what he brings to our game.”

O’Connell has been linked with a return to home province Munster in some capacity.

Meanwhile, Jackman and his coaching staff are set to extend their contracts with Grenoble as the former Ireland hooker takes on a greater responsibility for off-the-field matters at the club.

Grenoble have called a press conference at Stade des Alpes  tomorrow, where the changes are expected to be confirmed.

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Murray Kinsella

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