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O'Connell goes down memory lane with eyes firmly focused on the prize

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell walks down the players' tunnel for his side's captain's run ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game against Wales on Saturday

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell walks down the players' tunnel for his side's captain's run ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game against Wales on Saturday

SPORTSFILE

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell walks down the players' tunnel for his side's captain's run ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game against Wales on Saturday

PAUL O'CONNELL allowed himself to be dragged down memory lane for half an hour yesterday, a rare indulgence in a focused week of preparation.

Ahead of his 100th Ireland cap, he recalled the morning of his first, waking up in a room filled with Peter Clohessy's cigarette smoke before scoring a try he doesn't remember after suffering the only concussion of a storied career.

"The Claw used to have a cigarette the moment he woke up," he recalled of his Young Munster clubmate with a smile.

"Look, I was well aware from Peter that this was not the way forward.

"I didn't need a moment in my career to realise this was not the future. But I'd come up with Donners (Donncha O'Callaghan) and he was probably the biggest influence in terms of looking after my body and how to prepare."

Amid the memories, perhaps the biggest reveal of yesterday's captain's run press conference at the Millennium Stadium was that the 35-year-old never envisaged playing on for this long.

He explained that the pressure he and his team-mates used to heap on themselves sapped the enjoyment from the game. Now, retirement beckons but he doesn't want the end to come.

Retiring

"I enjoy it more than ever and that's the thing with thinking about, planning retiring; you need to make the decision and do it at the right time. You can't hang on too long," he said.

"It will be a big pull when it happens; when I was about 27 or 28 I honestly thought I'd retire at 31 or 32, because there were times when I was finding it hard, but now I enjoy it more than ever.

"With Munster and Ireland we put a lot of pressure on ourselves back in those days; in recent years all you can do is prepare to the best of your ability, go out then and try and do the best you can in the moment you're playing.

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13 February 2011; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, celebrates after Tomas O'Leary scored Ireland's second try. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

13 February 2011; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, celebrates after Tomas O'Leary scored Ireland's second try. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

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15 September 2009; Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell, along with other team-members, get a fit of giggles while being interviewed by MC Shane O'Donoghue at the launch of the new Ireland PUMA rugby kit. The Ireland rugby squad will wear the new PUMA Ireland jersey for the first time in their Autumn International against Australia on 15th November in Croke Park. Radisson SAS St Helen's Hotel, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

15 September 2009; Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell, along with other team-members, get a fit of giggles while being interviewed by MC Shane O'Donoghue at the launch of the new Ireland PUMA rugby kit. The Ireland rugby squad will wear the new PUMA Ireland jersey for the first time in their Autumn International against Australia on 15th November in Croke Park. Radisson SAS St Helen's Hotel, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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27 February 2010; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, attempts to get to grips with the England maul. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, England v Ireland, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

27 February 2010; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, attempts to get to grips with the England maul. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, England v Ireland, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2009; Ireland's Paul O'Connell, right, and Donncha O'Callaghan celebrate with the RBS Six Nations Championship trophy and Triple Crown. RBS Six Nations Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2009; Ireland's Paul O'Connell, right, and Donncha O'Callaghan celebrate with the RBS Six Nations Championship trophy and Triple Crown. RBS Six Nations Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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7 February 2009; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, takes the ball in the lineout against Imanol Harinordoquy, France. 2009 RBS Six Nations Championship, Ireland v France, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

7 February 2009; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, takes the ball in the lineout against Imanol Harinordoquy, France. 2009 RBS Six Nations Championship, Ireland v France, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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26 September 2007; Ireland's Paul O'Connell speaking at a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2007 Rugby World Cup, Sofitel Bordeaux Aquitania, Bordeaux, France. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

26 September 2007; Ireland's Paul O'Connell speaking at a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2007 Rugby World Cup, Sofitel Bordeaux Aquitania, Bordeaux, France. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

24 February 2007; Ireland's Paul O'Connell wins possession in the lineout against England. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

24 February 2007; Ireland's Paul O'Connell wins possession in the lineout against England. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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23 February 2005; Paul O'Connell is snowballed by team-mate Frank Sheahan after Ireland rugby squad training. Terenure Rugby Club, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

23 February 2005; Paul O'Connell is snowballed by team-mate Frank Sheahan after Ireland rugby squad training. Terenure Rugby Club, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

6 March 2004; Ireland players, from left, Kevin Maggs, Anthony Foley, Keith Gleeson, Simon Easterby, Paul O'Connell and Malcolm O'Kelly celebrate in the dressing room after victory over England. RBS 6 Nations Championship 2003-2004, England v Ireland, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

6 March 2004; Ireland players, from left, Kevin Maggs, Anthony Foley, Keith Gleeson, Simon Easterby, Paul O'Connell and Malcolm O'Kelly celebrate in the dressing room after victory over England. RBS 6 Nations Championship 2003-2004, England v Ireland, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

6 August 2003; Ireland's Paul O'Connell. Ireland Rugby Squad Training. Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

6 August 2003; Ireland's Paul O'Connell. Ireland Rugby Squad Training. Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell makes his way onto the pitch prior to kick off. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Landsdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell makes his way onto the pitch prior to kick off. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Landsdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

6 April 2002; A dejected Paul O'Connell, Ireland, after defeat to France. Lloyds Six Nations Championship, France v Ireland, Stade de France, St Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

6 April 2002; A dejected Paul O'Connell, Ireland, after defeat to France. Lloyds Six Nations Championship, France v Ireland, Stade de France, St Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; The Ireland team. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Landsdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; The Ireland team. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Landsdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

15 January 2002; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

15 January 2002; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates with team-mate Peter Stringer after scoring his try against Wales. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates with team-mate Peter Stringer after scoring his try against Wales. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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1 March 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, blocks the kick from Ben Youngs, England. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

1 March 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, blocks the kick from Ben Youngs, England. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

14 February 2015; Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy leave the pitch after the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

14 February 2015; Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy leave the pitch after the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, wins a ball from Luke Jones, Australia. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, wins a ball from Luke Jones, Australia. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

28 January 2015; In attendance at the launch of the RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015 is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015, The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, England. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

28 January 2015; In attendance at the launch of the RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015 is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015, The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, England. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

20 November 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their side's Guinness Series match against Australia on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

20 November 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their side's Guinness Series match against Australia on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

14 June 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Summer Tour 2014, Second Test, Argentina v Ireland. Estadio Jos? Fierro, San Miguel de Tucum?n, Tucum?n, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

14 June 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Summer Tour 2014, Second Test, Argentina v Ireland. Estadio Jos? Fierro, San Miguel de Tucum?n, Tucum?n, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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3 June 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014  test game against Argentina on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Hurling Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

3 June 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014 test game against Argentina on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Hurling Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Paul O'Connell, left, and Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, celebrate with the trophy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland. Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Paul O'Connell, left, and Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, celebrate with the trophy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland. Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell raises the RBS Six Nations Championship trophy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell raises the RBS Six Nations Championship trophy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

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15 March 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell celebrates winning the 2014 RBS six nations championship after beating France. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell celebrates winning the 2014 RBS six nations championship after beating France. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

21 February 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell makes his way through the players' tunnel before the captain's run ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014 match against England on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Captain's Run, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 February 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell makes his way through the players' tunnel before the captain's run ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014 match against England on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Captain's Run, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

20 February 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell is carried by team-mate Devin Toner during a warm-up drill at squad training ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against England on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

20 February 2014; Ireland's Paul O'Connell is carried by team-mate Devin Toner during a warm-up drill at squad training ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against England on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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25 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, supported by Ronan O'Gara, right, is tackled by Antonio Pavanello, left, and Leonardo Ghiraldini, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

25 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, supported by Ronan O'Gara, right, is tackled by Antonio Pavanello, left, and Leonardo Ghiraldini, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

9 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v Samoa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

9 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v Samoa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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5 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

5 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

9 February 2012; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their side's RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game against France on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

9 February 2012; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell during squad training ahead of their side's RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game against France on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

17 September 2011; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, races clear of Dan Vickerman, Australia. 2011 Rugby World Cup, Pool C, Australia v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

17 September 2011; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, races clear of Dan Vickerman, Australia. 2011 Rugby World Cup, Pool C, Australia v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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17 September 2011; Will Genia, Australia, is tackled by Ireland players Stephen Ferris, Paul O'Connell and Eoin Reddan. 2011 Rugby World Cup, Pool C, Australia v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

17 September 2011; Will Genia, Australia, is tackled by Ireland players Stephen Ferris, Paul O'Connell and Eoin Reddan. 2011 Rugby World Cup, Pool C, Australia v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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4 September 2011; Ireland's Paul O'Connell in conversation with head coach Declan Kidney welcome ceremony ahead of their Pool C opening game against the USA on the 11th of September. Ireland Rugby Squad Welcome Ceremony - 2011 Rugby World Cup, Queenstown, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

4 September 2011; Ireland's Paul O'Connell in conversation with head coach Declan Kidney welcome ceremony ahead of their Pool C opening game against the USA on the 11th of September. Ireland Rugby Squad Welcome Ceremony - 2011 Rugby World Cup, Queenstown, New Zealand. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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27 January 2009; Ireland's Paul O'Connell at the team press conference. The Strand Hotel, Limerick. Picture credit: Kieran Clancy / SPORTSFILE

27 January 2009; Ireland's Paul O'Connell at the team press conference. The Strand Hotel, Limerick. Picture credit: Kieran Clancy / SPORTSFILE

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14 February 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, in action against Damien Chouly, France. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

14 February 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, in action against Damien Chouly, France. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

28 January 2015; In attendance at the launch of the RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015 is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015, The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, England. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

28 January 2015; In attendance at the launch of the RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015 is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. RBS Six Nations Championship Launch 2015, The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, England. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, in action against Jake Schatz, Australia. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, in action against Jake Schatz, Australia. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

2 June 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell relaxes at the team hotel in Buenos Aires following a press conference ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014  test game against Argentina on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Emperador Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

2 June 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell relaxes at the team hotel in Buenos Aires following a press conference ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014 test game against Argentina on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Emperador Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 September 2014; Canterbury and the IRFU have today unveiled the new Ireland home and alternate playing kits will be worn for the first time during the Guinness Series when Ireland take on South Africa, Georiga and Australia.  Pictured at the launch is Ireland's Paul O'Connell.  Canterbury Ireland Jersey launch media activity, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

22 September 2014; Canterbury and the IRFU have today unveiled the new Ireland home and alternate playing kits will be worn for the first time during the Guinness Series when Ireland take on South Africa, Georiga and Australia. Pictured at the launch is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. Canterbury Ireland Jersey launch media activity, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 September 2014; Canterbury and the IRFU have today unveiled the new Ireland home and alternate playing kits will be worn for the first time during the Guinness Series when Ireland take on South Africa, Georiga and Australia.  Pictured at the launch is Ireland's Paul O'Connell.  Canterbury Ireland Jersey launch media activity, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

22 September 2014; Canterbury and the IRFU have today unveiled the new Ireland home and alternate playing kits will be worn for the first time during the Guinness Series when Ireland take on South Africa, Georiga and Australia. Pictured at the launch is Ireland's Paul O'Connell. Canterbury Ireland Jersey launch media activity, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

31 January 2014; Ireland captain Paul o'Connell after a press conference ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Scotland on Sunday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

31 January 2014; Ireland captain Paul o'Connell after a press conference ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Scotland on Sunday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

15 March 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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8 February 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

8 February 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

23 September 2013; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

23 September 2013; Ireland's Paul O'Connell during squad training. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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24 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

24 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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1 June 2013; Paul O'Connell, British & Irish Lions. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, Barbarians v British & Irish Lions, Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Poh, Hong Kong, China. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

1 June 2013; Paul O'Connell, British & Irish Lions. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, Barbarians v British & Irish Lions, Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Poh, Hong Kong, China. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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22 June 2013; Paul O'Connell, British & Irish Lions. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

22 June 2013; Paul O'Connell, British & Irish Lions. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates with team-mate Peter Stringer after scoring his try against Wales. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

3 February 2002; Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates with team-mate Peter Stringer after scoring his try against Wales. Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championships, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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13 February 2011; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, celebrates after Tomas O'Leary scored Ireland's second try. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

"That's all you can do. That group of players were very ambitious, but we used to put a lot of pressure on ourselves and it didn't always help, it didn't always lead to you enjoying your rugby and enjoying the game."

Now, his full focus is on Wales and, while victory in Cardiff today would set up a Grand Slam tilt for the Six Nations champions, you won't get the captain talking about it.

"The possibility of a championship is probably in the back of your mind. The way Joe (Schmidt) prepares a team is a good way of moving it from your mind," he said. "We had a tough review of England and then began to plan for Wales. If you're not fully focused on those little things you can't perform."

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