Monday 9 December 2019

Jerry Flannery: Paul O'Connell was like a coach on the field

Jerry Flannery and Paul O'Connell during an Ireland training session in 2009
Jerry Flannery and Paul O'Connell during an Ireland training session in 2009

John Fallon

Paul O’Connell has been tipped to become a world-class coach by his former Ireland Munster teammate Jerry Flannery.

Flannery, who last season was O’Connell’s scrum coach with Munster having won Heineken Cup medals in the same pack as him, said it would be a huge shame if the former Munster, Ireland and Lions captain did not become a coach.

“I think he will make a fantastic coach and it would be a shame if he didn’t go down that road.

“In a way, guys like Paul are coaches when they are playing, on the field and in meetings, so it would really be an extension of that. I think he would make an excellent coach,” he said.

Flannery said it was a huge disappointment that O’Connell did not get to experience playing in France with Toulon.

But he now expects him to consider going down the coaching route — and Flannery said he would strongly encourage O’Connell to do that.

“Up to now he would be very much focused on playing, that’s all he would have been concentrating on. But now that he’s retiring I think he will consider it,” he added.

Munster backs coach Brian Walsh, who also worked with O’Connell last season, also said that the lock would make a superb coach.

“He drove standards, not just of players but he kept the coaches on their toes as well. He was always looking to improve things on and off the pitch.

“He set the standard for everyone, always looking to improve and get the extra edge and it didn’t matter where it was a Munster jersey, an Irish one or a Lions tour, or just a training session, it didn’t matter, you got everything from Paul every time,” said Walsh.

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