O'Connell commits future to Munster
Published 21/01/2014 | 12:22
Paul O'Connell has rejected the lure of a move to France to sign a two-year central contract to stay with Munster until 2016.
The 34-year-old lock should now complete his career at his home province, and his new deal cements his ambitions to captain Ireland at Rugby World Cup 2015.
O'Connell is the latest Ireland star to spurn a move to the French Top 14 after Sean O'Brien rejected a lucrative offer from Toulon.
Number eight Jamie Heaslip remains the Irish Rugby Football Union's chief target to tie down to a new contract, the 30-year-old having fielded offers from Toulon and Montpellier.
"I am delighted to sign a new IRFU contract and to continue playing with Munster for the next two seasons," said O'Connell.
"Over the years I have been privileged to play in many fantastic Munster sides and as we build for the future I am excited by the prospect of playing my part in achieving success with Munster and Ireland in the coming seasons."
O'Connell has racked up 154 Munster appearances since his debut in August 2001.
Just six months after his Munster bow O'Connell muscled in for Ireland action, and now boasts 88 caps.
The three-time British and Irish Lion led Munster to the Heineken Cup title in 2008 and the RaboDirect Pro12 in 2009 and 2011.
Philip Browne, the IRFU chief executive, hailed O'Connell as a true great in the country's rugby history.
"Paul is one of Ireland's greatest ever rugby players and his contribution to the success of Irish rugby over the past decade has been immense," he said.
"We are delighted that the Irish captain has committed his future to Munster and Ireland for the next two years."
Munster head coach Rob Penney was also pleased that "one of the best second rows in world rugby" will continue to ply his trade for the club.
"Paul has contributed so much to Munster over the years and remains one of the best second rows in world rugby.
"His experience and leadership will play a key role in the future development of this young Munster squad."