THERE SEEMS TO be a new Irish player linked with a move away from the country every week, but the latest is a rather unexpected one.
It appeared that Paul O’Connell was set to finish his career with home province Munster having already celebrated his 33rd birthday, but that may not be the case after the inspirational lock revealed that it’s a “big regret” of his that he hasn’t played abroad.
O’Connell is out of contract at the end of the season, but he told MailOnline that he would “like to play until the next World Cup, as a minimum, providing the body is right and it feels good at the moment.”
In a revealing interview with Chris Foy, the three-time Lion was asked whether he would be re-signing with the IRFU for next season.
I’m not sure… If I had to consider my options somewhere else I certainly would. It’s a big regret of mine not having played abroad. I’ve lived in Limerick all my life and while I love it here, I would like to experience life abroad. I haven’t started discussing my contract yet, so we’ll see what happens.”
While those words are far from a commitment to moving abroad, they won’t be welcomed by Munster and Ireland supporters who had hoped O’Connell would remain at home ahead of the next World Cup. The growing reality is that rugby is a global game and players will have their heads turned by what’s on offer away from Ireland, not just in a monetary sense.
O’Connell also opened up on his feelings about the dropping of Brian O’Driscoll for the third Test of the Lions tour during the summer, saying that he was “very disappointed” for his friend and teammate.
“There are no rights or wrongs to it. I’m sure the score would have been the same with Brian on the pitch, but I’ve still got a lot of respect for the way Gats [Warren Gatland] managed the tour and kept players fresh, in good shape, buzzing and enjoying the trip.
“He is very astute and I don’t know if any other coach could have done the job he did.”
Would you be worried about losing Paul O’Connell to the rich clubs in France? Would you begrudge him the chance to finish his career abroad? Or is this simply an effort to push the IRFU into contract negotiations as soon as possible? All comments welcome below…