Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Callaghan keen to see old sparring partner back in harness

Conor George

Conor George

WHEN Paul O'Connell departed the Castletroy Hotel in Limerick after his press conference on Wednesday he grabbed a brief and private moment with Donncha O'Callaghan.

The two towering second-rows huddled together – well as much as two 6ft 6ins behemoths can 'huddle' – and shared a few words.

O'Callaghan wouldn't be drawn on what they discussed afterwards, but the admiration for his long-time partner in crime was clearly evident.

Up until last season, O'Callaghan and O'Connell were practically joined at the hip in both the Irish and Munster teams and the elder of the two has never been shy in his admiration of the former Lions captain.

And now that there is a definite timeline on O'Connell's likely return to the Munster side, he couldn't be happier.

"I'll be honest with you, none of us doubted him," said O'Callaghan.

"With Paul you just know he'll do everything to get himself right and get back.

"It has been kind of frustrating because people come up to you and say: 'How's Paulie? Oh, he's in a bad way,' because they don't know him as well as you do and don't know how much he's going to put in to get right.

"As soon as you hear people write him off, you nearly jump down their throat because all the while you know Paul is doing whatever needs to be done."

That O'Connell's return will coincide with a possible Heineken Cup quarter-final will be a massive motivation for the side.

"It's the incentive for us to get a full squad back and to be playing quality rugby at the top end knock-out stages.

"Hopefully, we can get into position where you'll know there's help coming and to be in a position where you can welcome him back for massive games," added O'Callaghan.

Irish Independent

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