Video: ‘He’s hasn't passed away’ – Alan Quinlan jokes over outpouring of tributes for Paul O’Connell
Such has been the volume and nature of tributes paid to the retired Paul O’Connell, former Munster and Ireland team-mate has joked that you could be forgiven for thinking he had passed away.
The Irish rugby legend was forced to call time on his career before ever playing for new club Toulon, the hamstring injury suffered against France in the World Cup pool match effectively ending the decorated career of one of the most distinguished players to play the game.
Quinlan as paid his own tribute to O’Connell, praising the “stand-out” second row, but joked that at least O’Connell is still alive.
“He’s not passed away anyway thankfully,” he told Independent.ie.
“I think when I met Paul first, I played for Shannon against Young Munster at Thomond Park. I remember this raw, gangly, ginger, second row. We had a big strong Shannon pack that time. A lot of internationals, a lot of guys in the Munster team.
“He was a stand-out player. I just remember that game in particular, looking at him and playing against him that day, realising how tough and hard and abrasive he was. I knew he’d go on and play for Munster and Ireland.
The 27-cap international said it was O’Connell’s ability to effortlessly lead which marked him out above all others.
“Not everyone wants to lead.
“Professional sport is hard to get your own house in order at times. We all have our own uncertainties. Paul was very strong, very resilient, mentally tough.”
Stephen Ferris too said it was a privilege to tog out alongside the former Lions captain.
“He’s a giant of a man. He’s an absolute gentleman as well as well as being the ultimate professional throughout his career.
“It’s a sad loss for rugby in general, not just Irish rugby, but world rugby.
Ulster Bank Rugby ambassador Stephen Ferris, has been travelling around the country this week with the RBS 6 Nations trophies as part of the annual Ulster Bank Trophy Tour. Ulster Bank recently announced that their longstanding support of rugby in Ireland will continue as they remain the title sponsors of the All-Ireland League until 2018 as well as Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU.