Sunday 26 May 2019

'He was the first male I ever saw with a hair straightener' - Paul O'Connell rips into Lions roommate Shane Williams

Jack O'Toole

Former Ireland and Lions second-row Paul O'Connell has said that Welsh Rugby's all-time leading try scorer Shane Williams was the first man he ever saw with a hair straightener when the two roomed together on the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand.

O'Connell and Williams appeared on a Lions preview show alongside former captains Martin Johnson and Gavin Hastings ahead of the Lions upcoming tour of New Zealand this summer.

The quartet were discussing getting to know players from other countries while on tour when Williams recalled that O'Connell was not as intimidating as he first looked, and that the Munster man actually made a great cup of tea when the two shared a room on tour.

Not to be silenced by Williams revelations nor the subsequent lighthearted pat on the shoulder, O'Connell fired back immediately with a story of Williams being the first man he ever saw with a hair straightener, while also acknowledging that the Welsh players were the first group in rugby to start using fake tan.

"I thought the Welsh boys were the first ones to start wearing fake tan and that," said O'Connell.

"The first man, male, that I ever saw with a hair-straightener was Shane Williams. Didn't even try and hide it when he unpacked his luggage. Hair-straightener straight out on the bed... couldn't believe it."

O'Connell would later take aim at Wales coach Warren Gatland who instilled his direct approach with the Lions on the 2009 tour of South Africa as the forwards coach and then again on the 2013 tour of Australia as head coach.

Gatland's Lions defeated the Wallabies in the first and third tests to claim a 2-1 series win in 2013, with O'Connell highlighting the simplicity of their approach as a big reason for their success.

"One of the things I enjoyed about the last two Lions tours was the way we played," added O'Connell.

"We played the Welsh game-plan essentially which, for the Welsh, you can learn in about half an hour!"

"But it was really, really simple. After two days in Pennyhill [the Lions training camp], we were all on the same page.

"Particularly in 2009, guys like Brian O'Driscoll absolutely loved how we played. Basically [the game-plan] regenerates the backline all the time. He got loads of time to get ready and have a go at the [South African] line with really good players beside him.

"He wasn't going to the line with second rows and props. He was going with guys like Shane and Jamie Roberts."

You can watch the full exchange below. (18:50 mark for the O'Connell hair straightener remarks).

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