Saturday 20 July 2019

Toulon still in hunt for Paul O'Connell as Ireland captain could make Munster farewell against Ospreys

Ireland skipper could bid farewell tomorrow as Reds green-light lucrative Toulon move

Paul O'Connell could bid farewell tomorrow as Munster green-light lucrative Toulon move
Paul O'Connell could bid farewell tomorrow as Munster green-light lucrative Toulon move
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Paul O'Connell could be set for his final appearance at Thomond Park when Munster take on the Ospreys in the Pro12 semi-final tomorrow as Toulon step up their efforts to sign the Ireland captain after the World Cup.

The second-row is a top target by the big-spending European champions, who are willing to offer him ¤1.2m to prolong his career for two seasons.

O'Connell is under contract with the IRFU until June 2016, but the Irish Independent understands that Munster will not stand in the way of the talismanic second-row if he decides to end his career in the south of France.

The Union remain the final stumbling block to a possible deal.

Munster are said to be keen to include a clause in any potential contract that would prevent O'Connell playing against them in the Champions Cup.

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has spoken of his desire to add the Limerick native to his growing list of galacticos, but for the move to go ahead, the IRFU would have to release the 35-year-old from his contract.

O'Connell has refused to rule out a move to France and recently said that he was "90pc sure" of his decision. If he is to join Toulon, tomorrow would represent his Thomond farewell.

Meanwhile, Leinster do not have a replacement for Matt O'Connor lined up after announcing the Australian's departure yesterday.

Former Australia coach Robbie Deans is the early favourite to take over after O'Connor left, despite having a year left on his deal.

The New Zealander faces competition from another ex-Wallabies coach in Ewen MacKenzie; former Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes is another name being linked with the post as chief executive Mick Dawson begins the search for a successor.

Deans will coach the Barbarians against Ireland next Thursday.

Irish Independent

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