Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 March 2018

Paul O'Connell not going anywhere, insist IRFU

Toulon link to captain 'not an issue' for Union as Schmidt contract talks get up and running

"Paul is contracted until the end of June 2016 so unless I hear otherwise it is not an issue," David Nucifora said
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Paul O'Connell will not be released from his contract early to facilitate a move to Toulon, according to IRFU performance director David Nucifora, who dismissed speculation over the Ireland captain's future.

The Australian says the Munster lock would not be let go from his current deal, which runs to the end of next season, in order to set up a move to France after the World Cup, saying "it is not an issue".

Toulon are interested in bringing the Ireland centurion to the south of France, but such a move is off the table according to the man who handles player contracts for the union.

"Paul is contracted until the end of June 2016 so unless I hear otherwise it is not an issue," Nucifora said

However, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said a it is up to the 35-year-old himself as to whether he carries on beyond the World Cup. The New Zealander said he would try and persuade his skipper to continue until the end of next season.

"He makes his own decisions. I have an incredible respect for the man. I think he has done a phenomenal job in leading Ireland and that is something which will continue through the World Cup," Schmidt said.

"He will make some decisions in the lead up to that. You know those decisions. . . of course we will try to influence him."

Meanwhile, Nucifora said that he would commence talks with Schmidt over a new contract for the head coach in the coming weeks.

The performance director and head coach both strongly dismissed Leinster's concerns over the IRFU's controversial player-management scheme.


Schmidt described claims that the province had to choose between playing their front-line players against either the Dragons or tonight's game against Ulster as "unequivocally not accurate", while Nucifora strongly backed the system.

"It's not new. It's been here for a number of years," he said. "Over those years, provinces and national teams have managed to win trophies. Hopefully, if we keep improving it going forward, that will continue to be the case."

Schmidt will be sweating over Marty Moore's fitness for the World Cup warm-ups after the Leinster prop was forced to undergo surgery on the shoulder he injured against Toulon.

Irish Independent

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