O'Connell: The rugby legend in his own words
"I want them standing back thinking 'what the f**k is going on here?' not for the first five minutes - every f**king minute of the game. F**king manic aggression - did you scare anyone? Did you put the fear of God into anyone?" - to his Irish teammates before playing France in 2007
"There's a lot of logic and a lot of thought and a lot of preparation goes into rugby and all of the brutal moments that you see are . . . it isn't mindless brutality."
- O'Connell explaining how rugby is as much about brains as brawn
"This is where it gets most challenging. This is when it's hardest. Going on will be tough. The experience will be great for us, but we've got to make sure we kick on. There are tough times ahead."
- after winning the 2009 Grand Slam
"If you can lift the World Cup you will go down in history. Look at the English team that won it in 2003 - the only northern hemisphere nation to have ever done that. Those guys are legends.
It would be great to fulfil our potential and play to the best of our ability in this year's World Cup."
- to Donald McRae of the Guardian in January this year
"I think, after rugby, if I wasn't doing something I loved, that gnaws away at me. I'm going to need to love what I'm doing to be able to get up early to do it."
- to Paul Kimmage on life after rugby
"I don't know if it is nerves or stress, but when you are coming towards the end you appreciate that there won't be many more of them. You want them all to be good days."
- an introspective O'Connell contemplates a life after rugby as he closed in on his centenary of Irish caps last March