Monday 20 November 2017

O'Connell cools Lions talk despite Gatland interest

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell
Conor George

Conor George

PAUL O'CONNELL has dismissed reports linking him to this summer's Lions tour, despite Warren Gatland leaving the door open for his possible selection.

O'Connell revealed that he hasn't spoken to the Lions coach in over a year, although his return to competitive action at the weekend is unlikely to have gone unnoticed.

"The last time I spoke to him was when we played Wales over 13 months ago," O'Connell revealed. Gatland this week insisted that it is not too late for O'Connell to force his way into the touring party for what would be the second-row's third tour.

"We know a lot about Paul O'Connell and it's not too late for some of the older players like him to make an impression," said Gatland. "We'll keep a close eye on these sorts of players."

The 2009 Lions captain refused to be swayed by reports linking him with the upcoming tour to Australia and also dismissed suggestions he might benefit from not touring because his body may need a rest after the injuries he has suffered in recent years.

"I don't need a break," insisted O'Connell (right).

"I've had injuries such as a broken hand where I've been able to train very hard, but I had a back injury which meant basically I had to rest it for most of my time off, so it certainly isn't a break I need.

"I'm not thinking about either of the summer tours (Ireland also tour North America). I'm just focusing on Munster at the moment.

"I just want to get as fit as I can as quick as I can. There's been a lot of media coverage about the Lions and that; I'm just trying to ignore it and stay as focused as I can on my own game."

Meanwhile, flanker Sean Dougall was the only Munster player to suffer an injury in their win over Connacht at the weekend. Dougall sustained a knee injury and is almost certainly out of the game against Glasgow on Friday night.

Munster will welcome back Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony for the game, but Donnacha Ryan might be rested for another week after his Six Nations exertions.

Irish Independent

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