Monday 19 March 2018

IRFU in talks with Paul O'Connell about coaching position

Paul O'Connell could be destined for a coaching role (Picture: Steve Humphreys)
Paul O'Connell could be destined for a coaching role (Picture: Steve Humphreys)
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The IRFU have held discussions with former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with a view to him taking up a coaching position within the game here.

The legendary second-row has visited a number of professional set-ups since deciding to retire in February after he failed to overcome the hamstring injury he suffered at the World Cup.

He hasn't publicly stated that his ambition is to coach and has largely kept a low profile since hanging up his boots, appearing as a pundit during the Six Nations and for the Champions Cup final.

O'Connell's old Munster team-mate Ronan O'Gara spoke earlier this year of his ambition to coach alongside his friend, who has visited Harlequins and Grenoble and is not going to be short on offers if he chooses to coach.

And his home union are keen to have him involved in Irish rugby, according to IRFU performance director David Nucifora, who revealed that negotiations with the Munster man began before he decided to retire.

"We've been chatting with Paul about what his future looks like," the Australian said.

"Again, he'll make his decision when he's ready about what exactly he wants to do, but we've been in touch with Paul, we were speaking to Paul before he retired about what the future might look like.

"You don't want to waste a resource like Paul O'Connell, he's got a lot to offer Irish rugby going forward. We're just working with Paul to work out the best way of utilising what he brings to our game."

Meanwhile, Nucifora confirmed that the union want Joe Schmidt to remain as Ireland coach until 2019, but said they are ready to replace him from within if he chooses to return home to New Zealand when his contract expires at the end of next season.

"Absolutely, we'd like him to stay and commit right through until 2019," he said. "He's got an unusual set of (family) circumstances and we're just happy and confident to work with him on those and he'll do the right thing and let us know as soon as he's got a clear indication in his own head.

"I don't think we're going to have to shop outside of the group that we've got at the moment within this country to find someone to step up to the plate."

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