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Mike McCarthy: Paulie's leadership will be massive for Lions

The Munster talisman deserves to lead out the tourists, says McCarthy.

Mike McCarthy at Carton House today.
Mike McCarthy at Carton House today.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

WHILE PAUL O’CONNELL is preparing to again lead the Lions on the big stage this weekend, Ireland are getting down to work off-Broadway.

And Mike McCarthy says the thoughts of the at Carton House-based Irish players, who will soon begin their tour of North America, are with their talismanic second row ahead of the Barbarians clash in Hong Kong on Saturday.

“It’s fantastic,” said the former Connacht man. “He’s been injured and he had a tough run which sometimes happens to guys. He’s been working really hard and I was delighted to see him back playing. Looking at the performances he had when he came back for Munster, everyone knows what he brings to Irish rugby and it’s great to see him on the Lions. He’ll be massive as regards performances on the pitch but his leadership as well will be massive.”

O’Connell has indicated he hopes to push on for another couple of seasons yet and McCarthy hopes he can follow the example set by other veterans of the second row.

“Some people say it’s because we only have one pace and have none to lose but it’s funny when you see Swifty and Brad Thorn,” says McCarthy, “so yeah fingers crossed I’d like to follow in their footsteps and play for as long as I can.”

McCarthy was pictured in the crowd watching his new team-mates at Leinster clinch the RaboDirect Pro12 title with a win over Ulster at the RDS. But he insists he didn’t hang around for the celebrations.

“I’d driven a van all the way from Galway with all my stuff to move into my new place. I just made it to the game and I just headed off after the game. I was pretty exhausted after the lifting all the boxes and furniture in. But it was great to see the boys win another trophy,” he adds.

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