Paul O’Connell delighted to be part of Ireland coaching setup

Paul O’Connell admits it’s strange being back in an Ireland camp as a coach, but he’s thoroughly enjoying it.

The legendary second row was brought in as forwards coach by Andy Farrell, and says it was a bit of work to adapt to life in an Ireland camp as a coach rather than a player.

“It’s been a massive work load from the start to get up to speed, to learn the language and learn how we’re doing things.

“But it’s been very enjoyable, particularly since we got together as a group on Wednesday. We didn’t do any training on Wednesday, Thursday we did a walk through and we started on Friday.

“It’s been very good. It’s very different, it’s a very different environment to what I was used to towards the end of my Ireland playing career, very different to what I was used to in France, and with Covid it’s even more different again.

“It’s challenging in the hotel, but we’ve a great set up, I think we’re making a good a job of it as we can. There’s plenty of engagement with the players, and the players seem to be enjoying themselves and relaxing as well.

“It’s different and challenging, but very good fun.”

The former Munster, Ireland and Lions captain says training so far has been tough and competitive, and will have the players in good stead for when their Six Nations campaign kicks off on Sunday afternoon against Wales. They’ve also had Ulster come in for a training game, which O’Connell says was a massive help

“When you come together as a group and you train against one another, and you’re preparing moves and preparing plays, you don’t have the real stress and pressure you get in a match.

“I’d say we’re 90% of the way there, against Ulster you have a few guys here with a point to prove, very eager to play, some big men, physical, and they were very well organised.

“Whenever you watch Ulster play this year they’ve been absolutely brilliant under Dan McFarland, having them down here for us as a hit out has been brilliant.

“You’ve got guys playing under a bit of stress, feeling that stress, it would be tough for us if our first experience of that would be the test match against Wales.

“This gives us something really good to review, to fix and to work on.”


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