Sport Rugby

Saturday 18 November 2017

Coach calls for Munster lock to remain with squad for rest of tour

Conor George

Conor George

PAUL O'CONNELL has been urged to stay with the Lions for the rest of the tour, in a non-playing advisory role, by Sean O'Brien and coach Graham Rowntree.

O'Brien believes his Ireland team-mate can still contribute to a winning Test series. "I really hope Paul stays on," said the Leinster back-row. "It's his call obviously and it depends on his frame of mind.

"Personally I think his presence is a huge boost to us. We know how good a player he is and how big a loss he is going to be.

"He has a lot of experience, he's a big, physical man, he has won lots of trophies in his career and he has been playing at the top of his game for so long now.

"But off the field as well he is someone the younger fellas do look up to. You can confide in him and talk to him and he will be missed all round if he does go."

BOOST

Rowntree echoed O'Brien's sentiments about the boost O'Connell can still provide by remaining with the squad.

"It won't be the same without Paul being on the training field," he said. "He's one of the best locks in the world and will be a huge loss because he was in the form of his life and I don't think he has ever been as fit.

"He can still contribute and I hope he stays with the squad, but that's a decision to be made between Paul and Warren."

A decision on O'Connell's immediate plans will be made in the coming days, but his fitness for the start of Munster's and Ireland's seasons is not thought to be in doubt at this stage.

He can be expected to be available for the start of their Heineken Cup games and for the November internationals when Joe Schmidt will take charge of his Ireland team for the first time.

Irish Independent

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