Sinead Kissane: Money can't buy the passion that Paulie brings to captaining Lions
IT all kicked off minutes into the event. Paul O'Connell was hunched over. His face was getting redder. All Brian O'Driscoll could do was look on. O'Connell couldn't get it together, he couldn't get the words out. He was laughing, uncontrollably.
What was meant to be a straight-forward question and answer session with players to launch the new Ireland rugby jersey in 2009, quickly ascended into a full-on O'Connell belly-laugh. Here was a man, who captained the Lions a few months previously, in fits of laughter after one of his teammates on stage 'passed wind' just as he was about to be interviewed. What could you do, only laugh along with him.
In the micro-managed world of a professional player, O'Connell doesn't give us a cardboard cut-out of himself. He holds an unaffected enthusiasm for what he does. The parameters of professionalism haven't placed a straitjacket on him. In his pursuit to be the best, O'Connell hasn't lost the genuine joy of being a rugby player.