BARBARIANS coach Robbie Deans has urged Munster and Ireland second-row Paul O’Connell not to retire from international rugby after next autumn’s World Cup.
Former Wallaby boss Deans takes charge of the Barbarians at Thomond Park in Limerick on May 28 when the invitational side take on Ireland in their first outing since lifting the 6 Nations trophy.
Deans said O’Connell - recently voted 6 Nations Player of the Tournament at the age of 35 - should think twice about hanging up his Irish boots after the World Cup.
“Paul’s stature in the world game is massive and he’s got a huge amount of respect around the globe.
“I noticed the other day that he said he wouldn’t necessarily close the door on the likelihood of further rugby and that’s a good thing because he probably gets better year to year!
“He’s certainly an immense part of the Ireland game. He will leave a big void for someone to fill.”
Deans is looking forward to bringing a multinational Barbarians side to Thomond Park in May.
Deans said: “Limerick is the heart of Ireland and the public will really add to the occasion. You’ll have an Irish team playing for World Cup spots and the BaaBaas team who will want to maintain their traditions and add to the spectacle. It should be great.
“Ireland have got a real depth of belief there now and they’ve had some consistency in recent times.
“They’ve got an experienced group but also a very vibrant group, so they’ll be looking with a lot of confidence towards the World Cup.
“Essentially they’ve worked very hard - you can see it in their conditioning - they’ve got a real clarity in the way they want to play the game and it shows.
“It makes it easy for the playing group to bring what they’ve got to the table.
Tickets for the Ireland v Barbarians match are priced from €30 and family (1 adult & 1 junior) terrace packs from €25 at www.ticketmaster.ie or 0818 719 300.