FORMER Munster scrum half Mike Prendergast, who returns to Thomond Park as backs coach to Grenoble on Friday is predicting Paul O’Connell’s ultra-professional approach to rugby will serve him well at his new club, Toulon.
Prendergast remains in regular contact with his one-time Young Munster and Munster team mate O’Connell.
Prendergast said: “When you arrive over (in France), it’s different at the start, different culture, different language, but Paul is a smart, intelligent guy who will know how to balance it. He will obviously have to learn French although there are huge amount of foreigners down there. He’s going into a world-class team, I suppose the best in Europe, but there will be pressure because they’ll expect a lot from him. He’s the type of guy who has done it over the years.
“I think they will manage him well. You look at the rest of the foreign players down there, Bakkies Botha and so on, they’re looked after well.
“The strength and conditioning coach was with the Lions and he knows Paul personally and has worked with him. They are smart.
“To be fair to the management down there, they keep the players fresh, they have the ability to do that because they have such a big squad so they can rotate their teams.
“So Paul won’t play every week. And the other things, look back three or four years ago, he had a good few injuries and while he has a fair bit of mileage over the last couple of years, there wasn’t a whole lot before that and that’s something that is standing to him.
“On top of that, he is a top professional and is in unbelievably good nick. You look at Brad Thorn and others and how they keep going for so long it’s their professionalism.”
Prendergast is currently in his third season with Grenoble, but his first as the Top 14 club’s backs coach.