Thursday 29 September 2016

Paul O'Connell unveiled to French media by new club Toulon

Tom Rooney

Published 16/12/2015 | 16:11

Paul O'Connell is unveiled by Toulon
Paul O'Connell is unveiled by Toulon

The sight of Paul O’Connell in any other shade of red than that of Munster or the Lions proved oddly jarring, but it was certainly so as Toulon unveiled the former Irish captain to the French media today.

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Although initially not expected to be back in action until April following the gruesome hamstring injury he sustained during Ireland’s World Cup win over France, O’Connell was front and centre with his vaunted teammates for the three-in-a-row European champion’s squad photo. What's more, after a successful surgery, the lock claimed at this afternoon's press event that he is now aiming to return in January or February.

O’Connell signed a two-year contract with the French giants last April having represented Munster with such distinction for 14 years.

Of course, he’s not the only high profile addition to Bernard Laporte’s squad of behemoths, with recent World Cup winner Ma’a Nonu , South Africa’s Duane Vermeulem and the mercurial Austrlian Quade Copper also acquired in the off season.

Indeed, it would be interesting to know how Leinster’s internationals feel about seeing their erstwhile skipper in the shirt of a club that effectively ended their Champions Cup campaign last weekend, and who they must navigate at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Toulon currently sit second in the Top 14 but, in terms of winning the Europe’s biggest prize for a fourth year in succession, they are in a less favourable position as expected after their shock loss to Wasps. They must overcome Bath twice and then Dai Young’ side again to ensure they progress from Pool 5.

If they were to, O’Connell could return in time to aid the his new side in their quest of breaking yet another European record as well as retrieving the domestic crown Stade Francais took from them last season.

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