independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Paul O'Connell is frustrated at Heineken Cup threat

Munster's Paul O'Connell
Munster's Paul O'Connell

PAUL O'CONNELL has admitted to feeling frustration at the manoeuvring that is threatening the future of the Heineken Cup.

The two-time European champion desperately hopes that the competition as it is "isn't taken apart" and that a solution to the impasse casting a shadow over its future is found.

"I don't know whether it's a serious threat by the English and French clubs or a negotiating tactic but it's a fantastic tournament and one that is very important to the Irish provinces," O'Connell told the 2fm 'Game On' show last night.

"From a financial point of view it's a very important competition and it's also one that is very important for people's interest in the game here. I hope an agreement can be made."

O'Connell declined to speculate on whether or not the Irish provinces should join a new European competition if the Heineken Cup ceased to exist.

"I don't know about the politics of that. There will be decisions made from a financial point of view and I'm not going to comment on that," he said.

The Munster and Ireland second-row was in London as part of the successful Lions squad's official visit to 10 Downing Street.

He is still a couple of weeks away from a return to active duty with Munster – "I'm nearly there" – and had some words of advice for everyone in light of the province's two bonus-point victories in the league so far.

"It's a good start but it's important for everyone to remember they (Edinburgh and Zebre) are not the strongest two teams in the competition," he said.

"We have Leinster, two ERC games and then Glasgow coming up. That's a big four-week spell for us and we'll get a better feel for where we are after those games."

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