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Not playing abroad 'a regret' for Paul O'Connell

Munster skipper signed a new two-year IRFU contract this week. But he admits he wonders what might have been.

Paul O'Connell: happy to sign on with Munster.
Paul O'Connell: happy to sign on with Munster.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

MUNSTER SKIPPER PAUL O’Connell admits he regrets not having played abroad at any stage during his career.

The talismanic second  row signed a new two-year IRFU contract this week which will keep him at Thomond Park until at least 2014.

“I’ve considered [a move abroad], I’ve certainly considered it,” the Limerickman told Eoin McDevitt on Newstalk’s Off The Ball last night.

“It’s a little bit of a regret not going away. It’s such a great opportunity top go and travel and play you rugby abroad, be it in in France or England or Italy or wherever.

“It’s a small bit of a regret – but at the same time, Munster’s been such a big pull throughout my career. Probably the time to do it is the mid-20s and it didn’t happen for me for whatever reason.

“It’s something I never really considered seriously though it’s always been in the back of my mind. At the moment I’m really enjoying it with Munster, we get really well looked after by the IRFU and I’m enjoying the rugby more than ever, the captaincy more than ever, so this time around I didn’t really consider it at all,” added Ireland’s stand-in Six Nations captain.

The new contract will take 32-year-old O’Connell to within a season of another World Cup. Will he be there?

“I’m not really too sure. If you asked me a year ago I would have thought there wasn’t a hope of it. But at the moment the body feels really good.

“I’m lucky in that apart from last year when I had the infection, I haven’t had many major injuries. I’ve had a few niggles that don’t have a massive effect on the body as a whole.

“So look, I’m looking forward to the next two years and getting stuck into it and at this stage I think you take each contract as it comes and you evaluate at the end. I’m not looking that far ahead.”

In the meantime, there’s the small matter of the RBS Six Nations and leading the national side while O’Driscoll recuperates.

“It’s great to have the contract out of the way and to be staying with Munster for another two years. I obviously knew about the captaincy last week. So yeah it’s nice. It’s great to do it in the absence of Brian [O'Driscoll]. It will be strange to have a run of games without him – he’s missed the odd games here and there over the years – but since I’ve been involved he’s never been missing for long periods.

“So I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of leaders on the field anyway, so yeah im looking forward to it.”

Listen to the full the full Off The Ball interview here>

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