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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 23 April, 2019
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France captain Dusautoir salutes 'warrior' O'Connell after serious injury

The Ireland skipper suffered an horrific hamstring injury against the French.

Murray Kinsella reports from the Millennium Stadium

PAUL O’CONNELL’S ATTEMPT to get back to his feet said it all about the man.

He simply couldn’t accept defeat, even though the pain screamed through his body from the hamstring in his right leg. Everyone shuddered at the replay as the Ireland captain got caught in the worst kind of awkward position.

Paul O'Connell down injured O'Connell was in serious pain. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Joe Schmidt’s downbeat answer afterwards said it all. We have probably seen the last of the 35-year-old in Ireland colours. Scheduled to retire from international rugby after this World Cup, you suspect that Toulon might be concerned about their new signing.

If it is to be the last of the Limerick man in Test rugby, as looks to be the case, France captain Thierry Dusautoir believes the game is worse off.

“I’m very sorry for him, because he’s a huge player,” said Dusautoir post-match. “I think that Ireland will need him for the quarter-final, but I don’t know what his injury is about. It’s true that it’s always a hard game against him. He’s a big warrior.

I think that with most of the difficulties we had today, he’s guilty. It’s true that I have a lot of respect for him. After Brian O’Driscoll, who was a top player leaving the Irish team, it’s another big player leaving the Irish team.”

Dusautoir admitted that his France side had been well beaten by the excellence of Ireland, but pointed to the need for their focus to turn immediately to a quarter-final against New Zealand on Saturday.

France coach Philippe Saint-André shared similar sentiments to his captain, stating that the better team won in the Millennium Stadium.

“They more than deserved the victory,” said Saint-André. “For us, we need to recuperate and analyse, while keeping in mind that we’re still in the World Cup. We need to prepare for a huge game against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Paul O'Connell down injured It looked like O'Connell's last appearance in green. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“In the first half, we were behind but we were still in the match. In the second half, even when it was possible to come back at 14-6, we were dominated, particularly in the rucks. We didn’t have clean ball and it meant it became very complicated in a very intense match. We were always defending.”

Les Bleus have, of course, had a notable success against the Kiwis in Cardiff, and Saint-André is hoping his men can call on the spirit of 2007.

Of course, we hope so. We’re looking for heart for this game. New Zealand are favourites but in a game of rugby you never know.

“It’s important for us to stick together and accept that we didn’t perform well today. We must be ready for Saturday for a huge, huge, huge game.”

Check out the highlights from Ireland’s incredible victory against France

‘It doesn’t look great to be honest’ – Schmidt fears the worst for O’Connell

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Murray Kinsella

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