Tuesday 26 September 2017

O'Connell's sights set on doing battle at World Cup

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell
David Kelly

David Kelly

Paul O'Connell has admitted he contemplated retirement last season before his second back surgery – now he is targeting the 2015 World Cup, but not as captain.

O'Connell, who finished the first Test of the Lions series against Australia with a fractured arm, has targeted a September comeback for Munster ahead of a November clash with the Wallabies.

"There are always fears of retirement in the back of your head, especially coming into the surgery but once I got the confidence from the medical staff, I felt good about it all," said the 2009 Lions captain.

"Some days I would have had those fears and other days I wouldn't have. The thing with the back was that it wasn't bad enough to get an operation all along, it was so close to coming right.

"Day to day I hardly noticed I had it and it was only when I went back training and playing I felt it. It was my second back operation so that was a bit of a worry. But once I got it, the surgeon was so confident afterwards it was going to be fine, I was delighted.

"The way the Lions tour went, I felt very good. Warren Gatland runs very short training sessions, high-intensity training sessions, which suits me down to the ground. I hope to make the World Cup in 2015."

Asked about speculation that new Ireland coach Joe Schmidt may seek to unburden current captain Jamie Heaslip and ask the Munster talisman to take the reins, O'Connell was non-committal.

"I honestly don't know," he said. "There's a big demand mentally. It's something I'd have to give a lot of thought to. I know certainly on this Lions tour, I enjoyed not being captain. It allows you to focus on yourself and get your game right.

"Jamie did a lot better job than he was given credit for with Ireland."

Irish Independent

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