Waving goodbye: Paul O'Connell
MUNSTER scrum coach Jerry Flannery believes it would be ‘a shame’ if Paul O’Connell didn’t get involved in coaching now that is decorated playing career is over.
Former Munster, Ireland and Lions captain O’Connell announced his decision to retire from playing professional rugby yesterday on medical advice.
Thirty six-year-old O’Connell has been sidelined with a serious hamstring injury sustained while playing for Ireland in the World Cup last autumn. The Limerickman second-row had been due to play for French Top 14 giants Toulon having joined the European Cup holders on a two-year deal.
O’Connell’s former Munster and Ireland team mate Jerry Flannery said he believed the second row would make a ‘fantastic’ coach.
Munster scrum coach Flannery said: “I think it would be a shame if he didn’t (become a coach) and I think it’s something he would have considered.
“I think he was very much focused on playing all the time because that’s the way he is and he generally stays pretty single minded on stuff but now that he is retiring I think it will come into his head.
“Players like Paul are effectively like coaches when they play anyway and Paul would always be a guy at meetings asking questions to make sure everybody else would know exactly what was going on. It was not for his own benefit that he asked questions. I think that he would make a fantastic coach.”
Flannery explained that his first memories of Paul O’Connell was playing against him in the Munster Schools Cup competitions.
Flannery said: I would have played against him at Under 16s. He was playing for Ardscoil Ris and we beat them with Munchin’s and then we played and beat them in the senior cup.
“When I played him under 16 he was useless enough, he was just a tall and skinny red-haired guy!
“I left school then for UCC and I remember seeing the Irish Schools team and seeing Paul O’Connell was on it and I was asking how did this guy make that jump?
“That’s what I say to a lot of younger players. Everybody sees Paul O’Connell and they see him as this kind of guy who was built to be the best rugby player in Ireland ever but everything Paul has added to his game, it’s down through sheer hard work.”