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O'Connell retains coaching ambitions but puts Munster on the long finger

The former Ireland second row was playing at the Irish Open pro-am in Lahinch today.

PAUL O’CONNELL SAYS he remains hungry to further his coaching career following a short spell in France with Stade Francais, but the former Ireland second row is in no rush to find a new job. 

O’Connell parted ways with Top 14 outfit Stade at the end of last season, having joined Heyneke Meyer’s backroom staff as forwards coach, with his exit leading to speculation over a return to Munster this summer.

2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open - Pro/Am - Lahinch Golf Club O'Connell in action at Lahinch. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

With both Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery departing the southern province, O’Connell was linked with a role on Johann van Graan’s coaching ticket, but the Limerick native today said he had not been approached by Munster.

Speaking at the Irish Open pro-am in Lahinch, where he was playing alongside Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, Shane Byrne and Keith Wood, O’Connell said he isn’t looking for a coaching role at present.

“I’m working at the World Cup with ITV so I’m looking forward to that and I’m going to travel a little bit next year and visit a few clubs,” he told Virgin Media’s Sinéad Kissane.

“That’s the plan at the moment. We had a fantastic year [at Stade Francais]. It was really enjoyable but it was I suppose a different philosophy to what I was used to in Ireland and I couldn’t bring those together.

But I really enjoyed it. I was grateful for the opportunity. I suppose when you grow up in Limerick and play with Munster, you don’t get a chance to travel as much, you don’t get a chance to live abroad, so we really wanted to do that. We wanted to live in France and we’d love to do that again in the future. It’s just about finding the right thing.

Asked if he retained ambitions to continue coaching, O’Connell added: “I hold a lot of ambition to try it out again. It is something I would like to continue exploring.”

Following the departures of Jones and Flannery from the Munster coaching staff, O’Connell was asked if a return to Thomond Park was ever a possibility this summer.

“It’s not something that would interest me in the short-term,” he added. “I have a great relationship with Munster and really enjoy going to the games with my parents and my kids at the moment. It’s something you have to be very, very prepared for. It’s a big job and a lot of expectation.”

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