O’Connell to step down as Munster captain

MUNSTER second-row Paul O’Connell is expected to step down as the province’s captain after six seasons leading the side.

MUNSTER second-row Paul O’Connell is expected to step down as the province’s captain after six seasons leading the side.

Thirty two-year-old O’Connell admitted he felt it ‘might be time for a change’ of captain at Munster when speaking at the launch of the RaboDirect PRO12 in Glasgow this Tuesday.

O’Connell’s international commitments with Ireland means he is unavailable for the majority of Munster’s games in the RaboDirect PRO12 and speculating is mounting that the fit-again Doug Howlett may be handed the role of captain for the season ahead.

Speaking at the PRO12 launch, O’Connell said: “I really enjoyed doing it. I’ve done it for six years now. It’s something I thoroughly enjoyed, probably not as much in the first few years as I did in the last few years, but I think it might be time for a change at Munster.

“I’ve done it for a long time, Rob (Penney) is coming in as a new coach and it might be a time for change, but it’s undecided at the moment. We might take another week or so to figure of what we’re going to do, so we’ll see what happens.”

Munster head coach Rob Penney added: “Paul is a magnificent leader in his own right and a magnificent man and a critical member of Irish and Munster rugby.

“We haven’t confirmed our captain as yet and that process is ongoing.”