Sunday 16 December 2018

Paul O'Connell: 'I've to be France or England when I play with my son Paddy, because he always wants to be Ireland'

Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Paul O’Connell has revealed how he has been pretending to be a French or English rugby player, but not in training, providing opposition to his fellow Ireland squad members but when taking on his son Paddy at home.

The Ireland captain is set for a farewell to the Aviva Stadium as an Ireland player against Wales tomorrow, but he is trying to block out the emotion of the occasion.

He will be back with Toulon in December, injury permitting, but this is the home crowd’s opportunity to bid farewell to a player who’d like to be remembered “as a hard worker and a team man”.

And, while he is not getting carried away with the latest farewell in his final lap, he admitted that he has lived the dream over the past 15 years in green.

“It’s been a very enjoyable experience playing here in Ireland at Lansdowne Road, every kids dream,” he said after leading Ireland in the Captain’s Run at Lansdowne Road.

“When I play rugby with Paddy I’ve to be France or England, because he wants to be Ireland. To play here as often as I have had, to have had so many great days has been great.”

Asked about the highlights, O’Connell was able to call on an array of happy memories.

“There’s plenty of moments, England in 2007 albeit at Croke Park, winning the first Triple Crown against Scotland was an important day. The big November internationals, when we started competing and beating southern teams,” he recalled.

“This year when Paddy was able to come into the dressing-room with me, I remember when Claw did that. Big wins this year against England and France, when he was able to be there was special.”

At the same time, the Munster legend said he is not getting too carried away with nostalgia with so many big games to come over the next month.

“It’s all about this game, there seems to be a lot of final everythings for me. Final game at Thomond Park, final game for Munster, it drags on,” he said.

“With Munster I thought about it, it hasn’t really bogged me down this week. More about where I’m at with my fitness, I’ve had a good pre-season, but 2 months since a game, so eager about getting out there.

“Maybe at the end, it might get emotional, that side of it hasn’t been big for me. It was with Munster, it hasn’t been big for me.”

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