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'Young Munster U8s are looking for someone': Ryan backs 'great communicator' POC to become coach

Donnacha Ryan was in a better position than anyone to see every aspect brought to the able by Paul O’Connell.

AS A LONG-TIME team-mate and close friend there are few people better-placed than Donnacha Ryan to talk about the legacy of Paul O’Connell on the day of his retirement.

The only shame is that so few months and precisely zero O’Connell match minutes have passed since Ryan last payed homage to the man he considered “the best second row in the world.”

Donnacha Ryan with Paul O'Connell and Paddy Jackson with Ian Madigan Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Back in October, Ryan said it would be a sad scenario if the last image Irish rugby had of O’Connell was the great man being wheeled out of a stadium.

What has changed now is that the positive prediction Ryan made about O’Connell playing until his late, late 30s did not come to pass, and the 36-year-old was forced to cancel the career tail-end he had planned in Toulon.

The Limerick man will not be short of offers to fill his time. He has business interests and an autobiography on the way, not to mention young children. Still, you can’t keep rugby intelligence out of the game for long and speaking with RTE’s Michael Corcoran late last night, O’Connell admitted that coaching was an area that greatly interested him.

“I hear Young Munster’s under eights are looking for someone, if he wants to start out somewhere easy,” Ryan joked before straightening face again in Carton House today.

“The wealth of knowledge he has (and) he is a fantastic communicator – very, very positive, that is the biggest thing.

As a leader the best thing he does is he gets you to do things you didn’t want to do and enjoy it at the same time.

“That was the mark of the heavy gains we got. He would go to the well a lot and you’d know full well he would go there and he would be the first up to do it. He led by example.

“Any club who are looking at adding to a coaching ticket would be knocking on his door — but I’m sure he is making sure his health is alright, with his leg and stuff.”

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Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Archer, Sean Dougall and Paul O'Connell Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Motivational skills as a player don’t always translate through the graduation to a coach. However, the 36-year-old was always more than just the man giving speeches, he set the tone all week, took control of set-pieces and always showed an eye for nuance as well as the big picture.

“Being alongside him in the dressing room and getting ready alongside him just made you raise your game,” continued Ryan.

“When I was getting ready alongside him I never felt like competing against an (opponent) I always felt I was competing against him.

He is the best second row in the world. His level of intelligence, it was incredible how he approaches the game, the science he brought to the line-up was amazing… to be a student of his was such an incentive for me to stay in Munster and sacrifice game-time to have the ability to train underneath him and learn properly how to be a line-out caller.

“It’s a shame to see it didn’t work out for him below in Toulon, but when your body is your business that is the nature of the beast. I wish him all the best in whatever he decides to do.”

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Sean Farrell

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