Monday 19 March 2018

I have only two jerseys in my house - Richie McCaw's and Paul O’Connell's, says Welsh rugby legend

Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Welsh stalwart Martyn Williams has heaped praise on the retired Paul O’Connell and recalled a post-match encounter that left a lasting impression on the flanker.

The 100-cap international battled against O’Connell regularly over the years, while both men were part of Clive Woodward’s Lions touring party to New Zealand in 2005.

Tributes have poured in all day as the Munster legend was forced to call time on his illustrious career following an injury picked up at last year’s World Cup.

Williams is among those to pay tribute to “great man” as much as the player, and recalled a gesture from the giant lock following Wales’ comprehensive 27-12 defeat at Croke Park in 2010.

On Brian O’Driscoll’s 100th international cap, Williams wore the skipper’s armband on a difficult day at the office for the visitors.

“I was probably at my lowest ebb in 2010,” he told Newstalk’s Off The Ball.  “I was captain of Wales in Dublin and we got blown off the park.

“I think every player comes to a stage where you realise, that’s it, you’re not good enough anymore.  I was at my lowest ebb going into the captain’s press conference

“I’ll never forget, I was passing Paul in the corridor and he asked to swap jerseys with me, which for me, just gave me an immediate lift. A second row and an openside don’t normally swap, but the fact the great man asked me to swap  really picked me on that day.”

The former Cardiff Blues backrower says the jersey still takes pride of place in his house alongside another recently retired legend of the sport.

“To this day in my house I’ve got two other players’ jerseys, Richie McCaw and Paul O’Connell,” he added.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the man.

“Just a great, great player and a great, great man."

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport