Wednesday 25 April 2018

Paul O'Connell: Peter Clohessy smoked a cigarette every morning when he woke up

Peter Clohessy with Paul O'Connell during their Munster days
Peter Clohessy with Paul O'Connell during their Munster days

Nick Purewal

Paul O'Connell geared up for his Test debut battling room-mate Peter Clohessy's crafty cigarettes: 13 years on Ireland's talisman still jokes about the passive smoke, but is deadly serious about the subliminal learning.

Munster enforcer Clohessy greeted each day by lighting up in bed as Ireland wound up to face Wales in Dublin in the 2002 Six Nations.

The 54-cap prop ring-led Ireland's card school while easing through training, leaving the young O'Connell bemused all the while.

This weekend in Cardiff O'Connell assumes the elder statesman mantle, admitting Jordi Murphy marvelled at his first sight of the Millennium Stadium in Friday's captain's run training session.

The British and Irish Lions totem will win his 100th Ireland cap as Joe Schmidt's side chase a record 11th consecutive Test victory and bid to inch towards Grand Slam glory when facing Wales in RBS 6 Nations action.

O'Connell scored on that 2002 debut in Ireland's 54-10 victory over Wales, but cannot remember the try thanks to his only career concussion: in acknowledging rugby's changing landscape the 35-year-old admitted only now can he fully appreciate the debt he owes his Test mentors.

"I was woken by the smell of cigarette smoke in my nostrils every morning because the Claw (Clohessy) used to have a cigarette the moment he woke up," said O'Connell.

"Obviously it's changed a lot since then. How I prepare now? I probably try to copy the best guys that are out there, I probably copied Donncha O'Callaghan for a long time; he's an incredibly professional player.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 August 2003; Ireland's Paul O'Connell. Ireland Rugby Squad Training. Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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; 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 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
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
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
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
9 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v Samoa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / 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
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
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; 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
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
27 January 2009; Ireland's Paul O'Connell at the team press conference. The Strand Hotel, Limerick. Picture credit: Kieran Clancy / 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
22 November 2014; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
24 November 2013; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. Guinness Series International, Ireland v New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. 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
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
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

"Now we're in Irish camp I take a lot of advice from (strength and conditioning coach) Jason Cowman. Johnny Sexton is obviously a great guy to copy and follow.

"It's funny, there are a lot more guys to copy now then there were when I made by first cap but I know my body, I know myself quite well.

"I know how to look after myself and how to prepare myself to be right on the day and not to overdo it in midweek, I think that's the big thing I've learned.

"I was well aware from Peter (Clohessy) that this was not the way forward. You know 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."

O'Connell will equal Mick Galwey's record as Ireland's oldest Test captain of all time at exactly 35 years and 145 days in Saturday's pivotal Cardiff clash.

The seven-cap British Lion has been hailed as enjoying the form of his life by half his team-mates in the build-up to his century milestone.

Galwey captained Ireland on O'Connell's debut, so as the Limerick native's career turns full circle he took time to look back on his humble origins, poke some fun - but also highlight his depth of gratitude to some experienced grafters who taught him his trade.

"Peter just saw every rugby match as a battle and the physicality of the game all that mattered," said O'Connell of Clohessy.

"It was all that mattered to Peter. You could see it in the way he trained during the week. He trained at everything at a very low intensity but it was because of where he felt he had to go at the weekend that he prepared like that.

"I loved playing with him at Young Munster, then Munster too and getting a few caps in with him for Ireland.

"Growing up he was the guy in our house that we were all watching for because he was Young Munster.

"Mick Galwey, it was the same, I only got a short period of time with him.

"I thought he was a fantastic leader and one of the big things that came across from Mick was how much he loved all the lads he was playing with.

"You know, the likes of Peter Stringer, Ronan O'Gara, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, he genuinely wanted them to be successful as much as he wanted to be successful himself.

"I know I slag Peter and Mick but a lot of the stuff I learned before I ever realised I was learning anything was from them."

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