Paul O'Connell seals Toulon move at 11th hour
Published 16/06/2015 | 02:30
Paul O'Connell has been confirmed as Toulon's latest stellar signing after the talismanic second-row put pen to paper with the all-conquering French club.
The Ireland captain had been heavily linked with a move to the European champions and, despite reports earlier yesterday that the deal may be in jeopardy, the 35-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Gallic giants.
The Munster legend was in France yesterday ahead of the transfer deadline at midnight.
The IRFU released O'Connell from his contract despite having one-year left and he will replace the void left by the experienced duo Ali Williams and Bakkies Botha who have both retired.
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has been a long-time admirer of the Limerick native.
Earlier reports from France had put doubt over the move with Toulon said to be concerned about his shoulder injury but the local media have said that Boudjellal confirmed that the deal was done.
O'Connell will retire from international rugby following the World Cup and will link up with Toulon following the tournament.
O'Connell is not the only foreign star joining the French giants, they also confirmed that South African powerhouse Duane Vermeulen and England prop Matt Stevens have signed on the dotted line.
The Springbok juggernaut was short-listed for the World Player of the Year award in 2014 and is generally regarded as one of the best number 8's on the planet
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has learned that Munster's James Cronin is expected to switch from loosehead prop to tighthead before the start of next season.
The 24-year-old, currently in Georgia with the Emerging Ireland squad, will compete for a place with Stephen Archer and BJ Botha whose contract runs until December. Cronin has won two Ireland caps and, after missing a large part of last season through injury, is in a race to prove his fitness before the World Cup.