Sport Six Nations

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Paul O'Connell: 'You want to produce, when you don't it's frustrating'

For Paul O'Connell, nothing but the highest standards will do

Paul Kimmage

Published 16/02/2014 | 17:00

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 08: Paul O'Connell of Ireland takes clean lineout ball during RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Paul O'Connell
9 November 2013; Ireland's Paul O'Connell after the game. Guinness Series International, Ireland v Samoa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Paul O'Connell: 'We haven't had a great team playing well yet - then you know where you are'

Three weeks ago at Carton House, on a cold and grey afternoon at the Ireland rugby team training camp, I sat for 20 minutes in my car feeling numbed and confused.

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My interview with Paul O'Connell had gone down like the Titanic. He had glanced at his watch, pushed back his chair and abandoned my questions to lift some weights in the gym.

A team meeting?

Fine.

Time for dinner?

Sure.

A surprise visit from his wife?

Absolutely understood.

But gym work! Weights!

You cannot be f**king serious.

The unpalatable truth was that I had completely messed up but don't ask me to explain it. No one fails with Paul O'Connell.

He chews books.

He loves anecdotes.

He is the open goal of sports interviews and yet somehow, inexplicably, I had managed to put him wide.

The questions hadn't been sharp enough. Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail as Roy Keane (one of his idols) says and I just hadn't done my homework.

Sorry, Paul, how many brothers do you have?

What was your mother's name?

What did your father do?

Within 20 minutes he was glancing at his watch and I knew I was doomed.

I sent him an email and begged for a second chance. I'm not sure it would have worked with Keano, but O'Connell has always been different class and he agreed to see me again on Friday in Limerick. I sent him a text the night before to assure him I was on my game.

'Paul, a few questions you may (or may not) like to consider: What is your idea of perfect happiness? What is your greatest fear? Which living person do you most admire? What is your most treasured possession? When and where were you happiest? How would you like to die? Who are your heroes in real life? Favourite movie? Favourite book? Sporting moment? How would you describe your perfect day? But if you don't like them we can talk about the usual shite.'

I wasn't expecting a response, but it came an hour later.

'Sorry about the delay getting back – just out of Dallas Buyers Club. I don't mind those questions at all. Ask me in the morning! Safe journey.'

And the following morning, 10 minutes early, he strode into the lobby of the Castletroy Park Hotel.

1: The Big Red Monster

Paul Kimmage: So, the Dallas Buyers Club?

Paul O'Connell: Yeah.

PK: It doesn't strike me as a film a piano shifter [rugby forward] would watch?

POC: Well, it's gotten loads of good reviews and we were going with my dad so I wanted to bring him to something interesting.

PK: And you weren't going take him to The Wolf of Wall Street.

POC: (Laughs) No, certainly not.

PK: I've heard you read a lot of sports books, so I've brought you a selection: How many of these have you read?

(I've placed 20 rugby books on a table beside his chair. He leafs through the pile and selects Stand up and Fight: When Munster beat the All Blacks by Alan English and the autobiographies of Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio.)

PK: Interesting. You've ignored most of the Irish guys?

POC: Yeah, I've read bits of some of the other ones but those are the two I've read.

PK: Is that because they were in the same line of business?

POC: They were just interesting characters that I wouldn't have known that well. I know Leo (Cullen); I know Rog (Ronan O'Gara) and Dunners (Donncha O'Callaghan) and Bernard Jackman. And Johnson didn't use a ghostwriter – he wrote that book himself – so I wanted to see what it was like.

PK: What about your own story?

POC: What about it?

PK: Do you have any plans to tell it?

POC: Yeah, yeah in time.

PK: How will it start?

POC: I have no idea.

PK: They usually start with a crushing low or a magnificent high.

POC: I don't know, hopefully there'll be some more magnificent highs and not so many crushing lows.

PK: I've been thinking about how I'd start it if I was your ghost; I'd call it 'Psycho' (his nickname) and adapt this passage from Ronan O'Gara's book (Unguarded) about the Heineken Cup game at Clermont last year: 'Suddenly the French crowd were going mental. Booing echoed around the ground, and I see the big red monster, Paulie, running across the pitch. The twice-weekly Midi Olympique rugby paper had demonised him all week, using still photographs from television pictures of him kicking Dave Kearney during the Leinster game a couple of weeks before. Then Paulie copped that it was directed at him. I could see him talking to himself: 'Come on, ye c****, come on, ye c****.' I put out my hand, and as he ran by he slapped it and shouted, 'Let's fucking kill these c****, Rog!' It was fucking special.'

POC: (Laughs) It makes good reading but I dunno bout the 'c' word. Is Rog a lip reader that he would have known what I was saying across the pitch? It's probably the kind of thing you would say at a moment like that because you're getting ready for conflict; and that's probably the way I talk in my head. And even more so on a day like that when I was getting booed so vociferously.

PK: How did it feel to be booed?

POC: I hadn't experienced it before . . . they (the crowd) were irate that I was playing, and I suppose I'd had a bit of hassle with (Jamie) Cudmore in the past.

PK: What sort of hassle?

POC: I'd had a fight with him when we played Clermont before so . . .

PK: That fed into it?

POC: Yeah.

PK: How is married life treating you?

POC: Much the same as unmarried life – Emily and me were living together for a long time and we had a three-year-old boy (Paddy) before we got married so it's very much the same. I really enjoyed the wedding; I didn't think I would. You hear people saying 'God! That was the best day of my life', and I don't know whether I'd say that but it really was a great few days.

PK: You were married in France?

POC: Yeah.

PK: Why?

POC: We were at a wedding the previous year in France – friends of ours – and it was just a great weekend. We really like France and after I proposed, Emily started flicking around the internet and picking out a few places and we came across this place (Chateau de Lartigolle in Pessan) run by really nice people and they were willing to take the numbers, so we went for it.

PK: You waited a while?

POC: Pardon?

PK: You waited a while to propose?

POC: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, I did, I suppose. Why did I wait a while? Paddy got in the way, I suppose. It probably would have been done if he hadn't come along. Quinny (Alan Quinlan) slags me that I put the cart before the horse but, yeah, I'm with Emily a long time.

PK: You met when you were 20?

POC: Yeah, we were off (broke off) about a year in the middle.

PK: Is she a Limerick girl?

POC: Yeah, from Clarina.

PK: You keep a very low profile?

POC: She does or I do?

PK: She does.

POC: Well, look, there isn't many paparazzi following people around Limerick.

PK: Did you watch the documentary on Rog?

POC: Yeah, I did. I enjoyed it.

PK: Go on.

POC: (Laughs) What's the question?

PK: I'm just interested in what you thought of it?

POC: Yeah, look, it was a snapshot of his career and a lot of it focused on selection and that period with Johnny (Sexton) which was interesting, obviously, but there was a lot more to his career and I'd loved to have seen a bit about that as well. He's such an interesting guy, such a passionate guy, and a great guy to have on your team. He's also an infuriating guy to have on your team.

PK: What was infuriating about him?

POC: I think a lot of top sports people have a self-belief that is unbreakable and I think that's what Rog has in abundance. When things didn't go right for us, or didn't go right for Rog, he could be infuriating. It's probably an admirable quality of his but his self-belief never wavered. If we lost, he wouldn't question himself – he was absolutely unbreakable. It didn't matter how good Johnny was playing, or how good David Humphreys was playing; (in his own mind) ROG deserved to be picked every single time for the Lions, for Ireland and for Munster.

PK: Were you close?

POC: Yeah, I was very close to Rog, still am. I may not speak to him for three months, now that he's in France, but he would still be one of my closest friends. I'd have him there with Dunners, with Fla (Jerry Flannery), with Wally (David Wallace), with Quinny.

PK: Would you have allowed a camera to have access to you like that?

POC: I don't think it would be my cup of tea, no. But I don't think I'd be as interesting as ROG.

PK: Some might say that none of the interesting stuff appeared on film?

(He laughs.)

PK: Okay let's talk about you now.

(I show him a photograph from last week's game with Wales: he is lying at the bottom of a pile of bodies – nine – and writhing in pain.)

PK: What if a man from Mars arrived at your door with this picture and you had to explain what it is that you do for a living?

POC: Yeah, well, this is a maul that has just been collapsed. The guy underneath, has pulled us down over him and my feet are on the ground at the other side . . . actually, I was a bit scared when that happened.

PK: Why?

POC: Well, it wasn't the greatest position to be in with a load of people leaning on you and I was losing my breath.

PK: It looks completely insane.

POC: (Laughs) Yeah, but mauling is insane. I don't think it would take off if anyone came-up with it now but it's a brilliant part of the game.

PK: This is a brutal, brutal game that you play.

POC: Yeah, well, I wouldn't consider you a fully untrained eye but it's not totally brutal. 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.

PK: Allow me to quote you an example of what I mean by brutality. There was an incident during a training camp before the 2007 World Cup that Bernard Jackman described in his book. Ryan Caldwell had gone off-side in a ruck and you caught him with a punch. This is how Jackman remembers it: 'Paul O'Connell is a powerful man. He connected with Caldwell's jaw, and Caldwell's lights went out straight away. However, this was not your average KO. Caldy, immediately went into spasm. His eyes were rolling in his head. Blood started shooting from his mouth. His arms and legs started to shake violently. The docs and the physios were onto the pitch like lightning. They managed to prise Caldy's mouth open, fearing that he might swallow his tongue or his gumshield. He was in a bad way.

POC: Yeah, look, I threw a punch in training – I've thrown a few of them over the course of my career and had plenty thrown at me – and unfortunately, whatever way I caught Ryan did a bit of damage. It was a really bad day in my career, one that I'll never forget.

PK: Yes, I was curious about that. What was that like watching the effects of what you had done?

POC: It was horrible experience and a big wake-up for me. You mentioned magnificent highs and excruciating lows and for me, that was a real excruciating low. I spoke to him two hours after it happened and he was like 'Don't worry about it,' but it gave me a lot of perspective. I haven't thrown a punch at training since.

PK: Really?

POC: Yeah, it was one of those moments when you realise with all the weights and stuff we do the damage we can actually do.

PK: What about the Dave Kearney incident?

(Last April, during Munster's Pro12 clash with Leinster, O'Connell was scrambling to clear a ball with his boot when he caught Kearney in the head and left him concussed.)

POC: Look, I probably misjudged it and assumed that everyone, without a shadow of a doubt, would assume it was 100 per cent accidental.

PK: There was a lot of niggle in that game.

POC: You are not going to play your closest rivals and not have a bit of niggle but that incident wasn't niggle.

PK: Did you watch it afterwards?

POC: Yeah, and it looked worse than I'd remembered it. I knew straight away that I'd caught him but I didn't realise I'd knocked him out. He was out (of action) for a while. I kept looking for his name on the Leinster teamsheet but it didn't crop up for weeks, which was obviously very frustrating for him.

PK: Joe Schmidt felt you should have been cited.

POC: Yeah, and I had close friends who felt I should have been cited as well, or that it should have been looked at, and I respect their opinion. But my point of view is this: the argument is that a punishment would stop you doing it again but how does a punishment stop you from doing something that was 100 per cent accidental?

2: The Garden of Get Somebody

PK: Rog described you in his autobiography as one of the three most influential people in his rugby career. Who were the three most influential people in your career?

POC: (Exhales) It would be very hard to pick three people, you would almost have to put them into categories. Des Harty (a teacher at Ard Scoil Ris) would have been instrumental in getting me to play the game at school. And I'd have to have my Dad.

PK: He played for Young Munster?

POC: Yeah, so he would have been a massive influence.

PK: Okay, and the third?

POC: I think I would have to go with Niallo (Niall O'Donovan) and Deccie (Declan Kidney) because I hadn't come through the system and they probably gave me my break. I could give you another category of players that have influenced me but I don't think I would have gotten anywhere without those guys.

PK: There are references to how competitive you are in most of those books: talk to me about that and your swimming career because that was the first sport at which you excelled?

POC: When I was 12, I was doing more in terms of hours (an average of 14 hours a week) than I do now as a rugby player. And in swimming, every single (session) is measured, so you can see yourself getting better or worse every day. So I saw, from a very young age, the correlation between training hard and working hard and what that did to the results you got at weekends. And I think that's where I got a good work ethic from.

PK: You had also plenty of ambition. I've read that you went to a gala in Waterford once and gave a memorable interview to a local reporter?

POC: No, it was a gala in Dublin and I gave an interview to a guy from Waterford. I told him I wanted to win seven gold medals at the Olympics – I had just done a project on Mark Spitz in school.

PK: That was your ambition?

POC: Yeah, that was my ambition at the time.

PK: But you stopped when you were 14?

POC: Yeah, I just hit a bit of a wall with it. I was playing a bit of golf and there was always rugby in the background gnawing away at me and swimming is hard. I mean, when you're running your head is up and you're able to look around and sample the atmosphere. But with swimming you're looking at tiles for two hours a day. I loved the training and the galas were brilliant – heading up to Kings Hospital – but I was doing it since I was four or five and there was a much more vibrant atmosphere with rugby and people identified with it more.

PK: The year you stopped (1994) was the year Michelle Smith won gold at the European Championships?

POC: Yeah, I trained in the same pool as her once or twice. There was a training weekend, where all the top 10 young swimmers in the provinces were sent to Dublin and I remember she was training in the pool at the same time. Gary O'Toole was the first person I ever asked for an autograph.

PK: Really? Where was that?

POC: It was at a gala in Limerick. He would have been my first sporting hero. I had his posters on the (bedroom) wall and would have watched his race in Bonn when he won his silver medal (the 1989 European Championships). He actually wrote me a letter after the 2007 World Cup, which was great.

PK: What did it say? Get back in the pool?

POC: (Laughs) No, he was just (commiserating) with what had happened and encouraging me to get through it.

PK: I don't understand, given your mentality, why you didn't make it at swimming?

POC: I'd say if I had gotten over that hump, at 13 or 14, when my head was being turned, I could have been quite good. I had a big growth spurt when I was 15 or 16 which would have helped my swimming, but didn't help my golf.

PK: Because golf was your next thing?

POC: Yeah, I used to play out the back (garden) and played loads of pitch and putt. I gave a lot of time to golf. I remember shooting 78 in the first round of a boys tournament at Strand Hill and feeling happy enough considering it wasn't my home course. And then this young fellah, Sean McTiernan came in after shooting a 63! He was 15. So it was just a different level.

PK: This is a quote from a piece by David Walsh: 'He had swum and played golf, partly to remain in control of his own destiny, and only discovered his true self when he turned his future over to a group of rugby men.'

POC: Yeah, I definitely like being able to look after my own training and being responsible for myself and that's what you get in swimming and golf – you only have yourself to blame. But there was a buzz around rugby. I got into it at 16 and remember dying for school to be over so I could go training. And I know it's a cliché but the team aspect in rugby is incredible and it was great at Young Munsters, just a great thing to be part of.

PK: Tell me about your first experiences at Tom Clifford Park or the 'Garden of Get Somebody' as it was also known?

POC: The thing that really stands out was the training on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Because I had potential, I was brought-up from the under 20s to train with the seniors and juniors. They would pick teams and literally throw up a ball between us in a small little square and we would kill each other.

PK: Was the physicality a shock given where you had come from?

POC: No, because I had grown up with dad and knew what you had to do but those training sessions were . . . it was always fairly dark because the lights weren't great, and the condition of the pitch wasn't great and the whole thing was built around making physical statements against one another. And not taking a backward step and that, to me, is what rugby became first. But it was a great way to learn, for a second row, anyway.

PK: And you had some good teachers?

POC: Yeah, some great teachers. The main guy was Declan Edwards who played number 8 and was quite a tough cookie himself. He would have looked after me in those early years and we would be still good friends.

PK: This is how you remembered one of your early games: 'One day we were playing Dungannon and early in the match this guy was on our side of the ruck and I gave him a terrible shoeing. We were then in a huddle and the Claw (Peter Clohessy) was kind of laughing at me 'Paulie, nice one there, you got him a beaut.' For me, Claw was a god and after he said that, I was so happy I didn't touch the ball for ten minutes, just ran around looking for someone else to shoe.'

POC: Yeah, well, rucking was legal at the time – it still is legal I think. But look, I probably rucked someone who was on our side and Claw gave me the nod of approval. And that's what a lot of AIL (All-Ireland League) rugby was back then, you'd see the scorelines 6-3 or 9-6 or 3-all or whatever. They were just wars of attrition.

PK: You roomed with Clohessy when you made your Ireland debut in February 2002. Rala (Patrick O'Reilly, the Ireland kit manager) paints a lovely portrait of that week in his book: 'I can still see Paulie sitting at the end of his bed, reading a book, whilst the room around him resembled the last days of Rome. The fug of smoke enshrouded the card players, their discarded sandwich trays, mineral bottles, tea, coffee, cups, saucers and cakes littering the desk and floor. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah minus the women.' Do you remember it?

POC: Yeah, that week was incredible. I was put in with Claw for the experience. Rala and himself were smokers, so Rala used to bring him his breakfast in bed so they could have a fag together. And he couldn't bring one for Claw and not bring one for me. It was the cards room as well. I used to try and sleep but there'd be five of them there playing cards till all hours. And then I'd wake at six in the morning and Claw would be smoking; the only light in the room would be the (faint red glow of the cigarette) when someone inhales. "Are you awake?" he'd say. "Well I am now." It was just another world.

PK: An interesting apprenticeship.

POC: Yeah, look, I hung around with Dunners and I knew this wasn't the way it was done anymore, that Dunners (a fitness fanatic) was the way it was going.

PK: In terms of preparation?

POC: Yeah, and of being looked after and not being nervous. I could have been put in a room with someone I didn't know and my mind would have been racing, but this was great crack and hilarious.

3: His life with Brian

PK: What are your first memories of Brian (O'Driscoll)?

POC: I think I roomed with him that week after Claw. He had a very nice phone, a top-of-the-range phone, that would be my first memory of him.

PK: His phone?

POC: Yeah.

PK: What about your first memory of him as a player?

POC: How hard he was. I'd no idea he was as hard as he was.

PK: When did you find out?

POC: There wasn't any one incident. We played them (Leinster) in a Celtic League match and lost to them at Lansdowne Road and I remember after the game thinking – because obviously he was this number 13 who had scored all these tries – but I distinctly remember that game and thinking: 'He's hard.' And he has busted me in a few tackles down through the years.

PK: What about his arrival on the big stage and those three tries against France?

POC: No.

PK: You don't remember that?

POC: No. What year was that?

PK: That was 2000.

POC: No, if there was a game of golf going I would have been golfing and not watching that.

PK: How would you describe your relationship now?

POC: I'd describe it as a good one. I have incredible respect for him as a person and a player. I think he's the straightest guy you could hope to meet and the same as a player. He's the most straightest, honest player you could hope to meet.

PK: Are you close?

POC: We'd be close enough. We wouldn't be best mates.

PK: You were at his wedding?

POC: Yeah, I was at his wedding . . . (smiles) he didn't go to mine.

PK: You're both competitive and ambitious. Did that ever encroach on your relationship?

POC: No, I don't think it did. I didn't have any ambitions to be captain while Brian was captain, or while Brian wanted to be captain. And in terms of him being Leinster and me being Munster, I think he probably grew out of that long before I did and saw the big picture.

PK: Has that been hard? I mean you've both captained the Lions and you're both regarded as icons in the sport but – and I don't mean to be cruel – he's 'Hertz' and you're 'Avis.'

POC: (Laughs) I've no problem being 'Avis' to Brian O'Driscoll. I can't do the things he can do and I don't pretend to be able to do them, so I have absolutely no problem with it.

PK: It's four years now since we won the Grand Slam: Was that the ultimate high?

POC: I think so.

PK: You think so?

POC: Well look, there has been a lot of them – the Lions this year was brilliant – but I played all five games in that Grand Slam and played good rugby that year so, yeah, that's probably the big one for me.

PK: In the aftermath of that Grand Slam win you said: '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.'

POC: Yeah, well look, I had had it when we won the Heineken Cup in 2006 for Munster; you never consciously take your foot off the gas but we lost our home record in Thomond Park to Leicester the following year. It's a real different type of mentality, wanting to go on and win something again and again. So from my experience with Munster, I knew it was going to be difficult going forward.

PK: And it has been?

POC: Yeah, it has been.

PK: There's a sense now that things are changing. People are starting to talk about it again.

POC: (Smiles) Well, look, we've won two games but that was not the Wales team that beat England by 30 points to 3 in the Millennium 11 months ago. We're heading in the right direction, it's not all roses in the garden yet.

PK: The greatest compliment you have ever been paid is in Leo Cullen's book. He tells a story about Joe Schmidt and a question Schmidt asked one of the Leinster forwards shortly after he took over as coach: 'So, if Paul O'Connell saw you walking down the street, what do you reckon he'd be thinking about you?'

POC: Right, what's the question.

PK: What was his first conversation with you? Did he show you a photo of Martin Johnson: 'What would this guy think of you?'

POC: No, I haven't had anything like that with him, but he is big into that. He is big into challenging people and . . .

PK: What have you had with him? What was your first conversation with him after the Kearney incident?

POC: We didn't really discuss it. I've had no stand-out conversation with Joe where he has said anything as deep as that to me.

PK: Can you tell me anything he has said that you've found interesting?

POC: Well, look, he's a very interesting coach and he constantly challenges people in meetings. When you clean a ruck he'll ask, 'Do you think Toby Faletau was sore after that ruck?' And I might have to answer 'No' and he'll say 'Why?' He asks questions like that in front of a group of people and it puts you under pressure to do it properly the next time.

PK: You've played Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales now under his reign – all home games, as Ronan O'Gara pointed out on radio last night, something, I confess, that hadn't occurred to me.

POC: It hadn't occurred to me either.

PK: O'Gara also said he was enthralled by the set-up and tactics employed for the games against Scotland and Wales. 'Enthralled' was an interesting word to hear used from someone who has been around for as long as O'Gara has and it feeds into the noise that's building about 'The magic of Joe Schmidt'. Are you enthralled?

POC: Yeah, look, he's just really good at letting you know what he wants you to do and communicating it and letting you understand how well you need to do it, if you want to stay in the team. I mean, you hear the lads talking about (his attention to) detail, but you don't really know what that is until you've done a week with him.

PK: I thought your press conference after the Wales game was interesting last week; if you had watched a replay with the sound turned down, you would not have been able to tell if you'd won or lost. It was, not flat, but there was no sense of joy or euphoria. Is that professionalism now? The mark of a job well done?

POC: No, I think at the back of our minds, without even having reviewed the game, or listening to Joe say it, that Wales weren't at their best. And were a long, long way off their best. I think Wales are a great team but just didn't play well on the day. We haven't played a great team playing well yet – then you know where you are.

PK: How do you feel about England next week?

POC: Nervous and excited. We're playing a team with a lot of confidence and a team that are really building up to something. There's a big difference between where Scotland and Wales at the moment and where England are. So it's going to be a big test.

PK: You still get nervous?

POC: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

PK: But it's different, surely? It can't be as bad as it was?

POC: It's worse. Why? I dunno, I think when you become a senior player you carry more of the load. When I was young, it was just about going out there and playing as well as you could. It was Anthony Foley's and Rog's and (Peter) Stringer's and Drico's job to make sure that we won but now, I'm in that role. I've gotten very professional over time. There is a lot of thought goes into each Saturday for me; there's a lot of preparation – physical, emotional, mental, recovery – and you want to make the most of that. You want to produce your best and when you don't its frustrating and disappointing. I probably enjoy the build-up more but the pressure is certainly as bad or worse than it ever was.

PK: Okay, we're done, unless you want to have a crack at those questions I sent you last night?

POC: Go on.

PK: What's your idea of perfect happiness?

POC: It's probably not far off where I am at the moment. Maybe if I had a house in West Clare and I was playing off scratch in golf, that would be it. Or if I could just go out and play golf and play badly and not be too disappointed. I'd take that as well (laughs).

PK: What is your greatest fear?

POC: I don't really have one. 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.

PK: Which living person do you most admire?

POC: I've thought about that but I can't answer it.

PK: What is your most treasured possession?

POC: I don't have one.

PK: When and where were you happiest?

POC: I really enjoyed this summer because of the Lions and I was married in France and we had five great days with all of Emily's family and my family. And a dressing room after you have won something big is a great place to be as well.

PK: Who are your heroes in real life?

POC: I dunno, I can't answer that either.

PK: How would you like to die?

POC: I'd like to die when I'm still capable of playing golf. I wouldn't like to be stuck in a bed for a year or two with people fretting over me.

PK: Favourite movie?

POC: When We Were Kings.

PK: Favourite book?

POC: Shantaram.

PK: Current sporting hero.

POC: I like (David) Moyes and would love if he was successful now, because I'm an Everton fan and he's probably the one I'm plugging for at the moment.

PK: Sporting moment

POC: Probably winning the Grand Slam. The Lions this summer was brilliant as well but sitting in your suit for the last game takes a bit of the gloss off it.

PK: How would you describe your perfect day?

POC: It would be the day after winning a big match. We head down to Liscannor with the family for the day and have some food in Vaughans and a pint in Egan's and some golf in Lahinch and a swim in Clahane. (Laughs) That would be my perfect day.

PK: Sounds pretty good to me.

adidas ambassador Paul O'Connell wears the new adipower Kakari boots. For more information and to buy your pair visit www.adidas.ie RRP €107

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