Saturday 17 November 2018

O'Connell takes next step on ladder with Stade move

Rugby

Taking the job with Stade is another step on the coaching ladder for O’Connell. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Taking the job with Stade is another step on the coaching ladder for O’Connell. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Stade Francais coach Heyneke Meyer has hailed Paul O'Connell as a "major asset" after unveiling the Ireland legend as his new forwards coach at the Parisian club.

The legendary former Munster captain joins his good friend and former team-mate Mike Prendergast at the Stade Jean-Bouin next season after agreeing a two-year deal to become a forwards coach and lineout specialist for the French side.

He is part of a high-powered, new-look coaching ticket at the Top 14 side who kick off their campaign against Paddy Jackson's Perpignan in three weeks' time.

Since he retired after failing to recover from a serious hamstring injury suffered in the 2015 World Cup win over France, the second-row has held an advisory role with the Munster Academy, while he also coached the Ireland U-20s forwards under Noel McNamara last season.

Taking the job with Stade is another step on the coaching ladder for O'Connell.

Although he lacks experience the 38-year-old brings with him a formidable reputation from his playing days and his new club are delighted with his arrival.

"I am really pleased to welcome Paul to the Stade Francais Paris family," Meyer, who led the Springboks to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, said.

"Paul will bring his value and experience to our coaching team through his proven leadership abilities and his tactical and technical skills.

"This is a major asset for the club and it shows the ambitions and goals of Stade Francais."

O'Connell joins a growing list of Irish coaches abroad as he links up with the highly-rated Prendergast who is in charge of the Stade attack for the next three seasons.

Ronan O'Gara will be alongside Crusaders boss Scott Robertson for this morning's Super Rugby final against the Lions in Christchurch (8.35am Irish time).

Across the Irish Sea, Girvan Dempsey is with Bath, Mark McCall is preparing to defend his Premiership title with Saracens, John Muldoon has taken up a role under Pat Lam at Bristol for the upcoming season, and Bernard Jackman is in his second campaign with Dragons.

Although they almost merged with city rivals Racing 92 last year, Stade are looking to get themselves back into the elite bracket of clubs with their new coaching ticket, led by the vastly-experienced Meyer who joined last summer.

Last season, they avoided relegation by three points and they will be hoping for much better in the upcoming campaign having invested heavily in their squad over the summer.

As well as his fellow Young Munster man Prendergast, O'Connell will be working alongside Irish-born, former Springboks assistant John McFarland and ex-France internationals Pieter de Villiers and Julien Dupuy, under Meyer in Paris.

The second-row planned to finish his playing career in France and joined Toulon on a two-year deal, but his hamstring problems prevented him from ever lining out for the three-time European champions.

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