How Will He Go Out?

Posted: June 16, 2015 in European Rugby, International Rugby, Lions, Rugby, Toulon, World Cup
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Any speculation regarding where O’Connell’s future lay was put to bed yesterday when he officially penned a two-year-deal with the French giants Toulon. Rumours, started by Medi Olympique, were circulating that the second row may only be signed after the world cup as an injury joker. But rumours are rumours and they were wrong.

O’Connell will join a plethora of superstars for the post-RWC season and he was released from his IRFU contract. It’s believed his international rugby may come to an end after the world cup as well. But let’s think about this for a minute.

A certain Irish 13 was ready to retire a couple of seasons ago, up until chants of “one more year” rang around the RDS. It was also no secret that Joe Schmidt encouraged him as much as the Leinster crowd.

But wasn’t Schmidt the Irish coach at that stage? He was indeed, and he had a different reason for encouraging O’Driscoll to play: the All Blacks were coming to town.

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Granted, Schmidt knew any 13 coming in to replace BOD would benefit hugely from his tutelage. But wouldn’t he rather have his experience on the field rather than shouting advice off it?

There is absolutely no denying O’Connell’s presence. Many players have openly stated that he colossal in character as well as in person. Most recently, Munster’s CJ Stander spoke about the encouragement O’Connell gave him at the start of his Munster career. The man studied Afrikaans so as to better understand South Africa’s lineout calls. Dedication isn’t even the word.

On Lions’ tours, injured players are sent home to make room for replacements. Even on that fabled tour to New Zealand in 2005, the captain, the Irish 13 previously mentioned, travelled home due to a shoulder injury (he chose to go, admittedly).

But on the last tour, O’Connell broke his arm and was asked to stay by management. His captaincy was just as important off the field. The Lions won the series, 2-1.

O’Connell’s Toulon contract will expire in the summer of 2017, right around the time of the next Lions tour. The destination? New Zealand.

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Much like O’Driscoll and Schmidt, I’m positive the future Lions’ coach would only love to use the second row’s experience. For those who think he will be too old, he will still have fuel in the tank for this. Being selected for the Lions is a dream come true, let alone for this tour.

A successful Lions’ series in New Zealand. Now that would be some way to go out.

Pictures thanks to http://www.skysports.ie and http://www.the42.ie

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Comments
  1. jneville88 says:

    New one posted.

    Like

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