Saturday 25 November 2017

Paul O'Connell: I think about retirement a lot

The Irish captain also admits that Munster 'over-thought' under former coach Rob Penney

Paul O’Connell says that Munster
Paul O’Connell says that Munster "over-thought" under Rob Penney as the game plan was not second nature to his Munster colleagues

Paul O’Connell has said that Munster often flattered to deceive under previous manager Rob Penney and admits that he regularly thinks about retirement.

The veteran second-row signed a two-year contract extension last January and admits that matches take a lot more out of him than they used to.

"I'd love to go to the next World Cup but I'd like to go there in really good shape as well," O'Connell told Newstalk’s Off The Ball programme tonight, adding he felt he struggled at times last season due to the absence of a pre-season

"I certainly do think about retirement but I haven't made any hard and fast decisions. It's just about how my body feels. It feels quite good at the moment."

The Irish captain said that the increased physicality of the modern game “takes a lot out of his body”, but is still enjoying his rugby as much as ever.

O’Connell will be working under a new coach in former team-mate Anthony Foley this season after he stepped into the role vacated by Rob Penney’s departure to Japan.

While Munster reached successive Heineken Cup semi-finals during a period of player transition under the Kiwi's stewardship, Penney was often the focus of criticism as Munster struggled to adapt to the expansive game-plan he tried to introduce.

O’Connell says that the frustrations of supporters were justified and believes the best coaches in rugby manage to simplify the game.

“I would agree with some of it (criticism of Munster’s play under Penney)”, he conceded.

"I think when you've got to give something a lot of thought - which we did at times under Rob's style of play - you can struggle to be direct and aggressive in doing it," he said.

“The best coaches I have played under like Gatland and Joe Schmidt simplify the game. The easier it is to get into shape and pattern, the easier it is to be effective.”

The 34 year-old says that while New Zealand are the finest exponents of such attacking strategies, they have been playing that way since they started playing.

“New Zealand play it. They play it from the age of four and Super XV set up a bit like that. It is second nature to them and you can see the subtleties.”

“At times in the (Penney’s) second season we did that, just not consistently.”

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