Friday 19 July 2019

Brian O'Driscoll on Paul O'Connell to Toulon rumours: 'He deserves a bit of a pension'

Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, and Paul O'Connell, Munster, share a moment after an inter-provicial game
Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, and Paul O'Connell, Munster, share a moment after an inter-provicial game

Cormac Byrne

Paul O'Connell may play in Thomond Park for a final time when he lines out for Munster in their Guinness Pro12 semi-final against the Ospreys.

Speculation is mounting that the giant Limerick man could play the World Cup in the autumn as a free agent before moving on to French side Toulon.

O'Connell is under contract with the IRFU until June 2016, but the Irish Independent understands that Munster will not stand in the way of the talismanic second-row if he decides to end his career in the south of France.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk this evening, his former team mate Brian O'Driscoll believes that no one will stand in O'Connell's way once he makes a decision on his future.

"If those reports are true, then good luck to him, he deserves a bit of a pension which I'm sure he might get down there," he said.

"He's given everything in a red jersey and I couldn't see anyone in Munster having any issue with him finishing up this year albeit, he's meant to be contracted after the World Cup."

Ireland's record tryscorer believes if O'Connell does move to the Stade Mayol he will enjoy the high standard that has been created by the reigning European champions.

"Paulie is a perfectionist and he would really thrive in that environment," he added.

"It was a strange one after the Champions Cup final, Steffon Armitage was brought in and interviewed and was immediately moving on to the next game. We've another competition to win. They seem very clued on and driven to success."

O'Driscoll believes that if the Munster legend does depart, the province may have to invest in a big name signing in an attempt to fill the void.

"Historically, Munster have always been good at developing second rows. Dave Foley broke through last year and hasn't hit those heights this season, he has had some injury concerns," he continued.

"You don't replace Paul O'Connell with someone out of the academy, whether they want to bring some steel in along with Donnacha Ryan, we'll have to wait and see, when we do finally see if Paulie is signing off."

O'Connell has not made any concrete admissions about his future but O'Driscoll believes this may be to deflect any attention that would come of he said he was on his way to the exit door.

"No matter what, there is more questions coming. I signed off with the 'I'm retiring at the end of the year' early on to stop the questions coming but little did I know the million questions or remarks that would be made about it and the long goodbye," O'Driscoll said.

"He's playing as straight as possible, i wonder is he playing is he just trying to get beyond the last game at Thomond and not make a good deal about it. He's an understated guy.

"If it is the last time, he'll enjoy the occasion himself and not want to make too much of it.

"This semi-final is means to get to a final and winning another trophy."

Asked if O'Connell could be reduced to tears after the game by a Sky Sports reporter: "I wouldn't think so. Maybe if they put the fear of God into him."

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