Tuesday 17 September 2019

Paul O'Connell reveals what he is dreading most ahead of Toulon move

Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy, 5 years
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy, 5 years

Declan Whooley

A hamstring injury has resulted in a delayed start to his Toulon career and Paul O'Connell has admitted to one fear ahead of the move to the Top 14 giants.

The Munster legend announced earlier this year that he was calling time on his time with his home province to end his career with the three-time European winners on a two-year deal.

Currently hobbling around on crutches, the second row will join a glittering array of world class players but a hamstring injury suffered against France in the World Cup, an injury that ended his international career, means that he could face anything up to eight months sidelined.

The 36-year-old admitted it was the most painful injury of his professional career and the rehabilitation process has been slow so far.

"I have been on the flat of my back. I got out of the hotel to go to the game, then we travelled home and I have literally just been on the flat of my back for the past two weeks.

"The Munster lads took me out for lunch twice and Emily took me for a pizza once, but apart from that I haven't left the house."

"It's a frustrating time," before adding that his return to playing action could be anywhere between four and eight months.

The O'Connell family plan on moving to the south of France in December, but admits that the logistics involved in his current state are proving difficult.

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"We have to pack up our house, we have to get ready to move. I can't do anything, I can't tie my own shoelaces because that stretches the hamstring. I can't pick Lola up off the floor or anything like that so there are lots of things I can't do.

"I actually need to get off the crutches before I can really plan and make the move over there."

The Limerick native admitted that he, along with wife Emily and children Paddy and Lola, are eagerly looking forward to the new venture, but does have one  family concern.

"They're incredibly excited. They don't care about my injuries at all. They just want to make sure we go.

"They're really looking forward to it but I'm a little worried about Paddy going into school with no French.

"Everyone tells me they take to it very easily, but I'm dreading his first day at school when I leave him off in and he isn't able to talk to anyone and he hasn't a clue what's going on.

"Apart from that I'm really looking forward to it."

O'Connell has not been in contact with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal since suffering the hamstring injury, but has been speaking regularly to the coaching and medical staff at the club.

The outspoken Boudjellal has been criticised in some quarters with his controversial viewpoints, but the 108-cap international has been impressed by what he has seen.

"I think he has created something incredible over there.

"I've met him and he absolutely loves the club, he loves the area. There are definitely similarities between Limerick and Toulon and what the club means to the city.

"He's massive into that. I can certainly identify with that."

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