Paul O’Connell: still the beast of Thomond Park?

Paul O'ConnellPaul O’ Connell attended the launch of the RaboDirect Pro 12 in Glasgow last week, standing with the other eleven Captains and provided soundbites to the excited media. Disturbingly for fans of rugby, not just Munster, O’Connell announced that he was considering standing down from the captain’s position.

Sure enough a few days afterwards, it was announced that the talisman of Munster and Irish rugby was relinquishing the captaincy, and that Dougie Howlett will lead the Munster squad this year. He is only the second overseas player to Captain the province, and the first ever back in the professional era.

O’Connell has declared himself fit and is looking forward to Munster’s opening game against Edinburgh on the 1st September, although with the IRFU player management programme, he is likely to be available by round three.

O’Connell was injured in a Pro12 game against provincial rivals Ulster, and subsequently missed the Irish summer tour to New Zealand. With the injuries sustained on his knees, the 32-year-old will no doubt struggle to maintain his match fitness and his ability to dominate the loose, and only Paul knows whether this is an added reason for his decision on the captaincy.

What we do know is that Paul is Munster through and through: the faithful love him and he loves them right back. Munster’s line out and scrum are so strong due to the combinations of O’Connell / Ryan and O’Connell / O’Callaghan that teams can only look on with relative envy.

As a Captain, his name does not look out of place with the likes of Richie McCaw, Martin Johnson, Michael Lynagh and Gavin Hastings, and the Irish team has achieved great things with him in the side. A ferocious player in red or green, he is a Rugby fans’ favourite.

Is he still the beast of Thomond? Absolutely. The sheer presence of O’Connell on or off the pitch demands respect.


By Andy Richardson

4 thoughts on “Paul O’Connell: still the beast of Thomond Park?

  1. Is there any point in him being the captain though? He’s hardly ever going to play for Munster with the IRFU’s “resting” policy

  2. Its a good point and I agree the policy is frustrating for provincial teams and their supporters. With South Africa and Argentina to play in Dublin this year, followed by the RBS Six Nations, and a Lions Tour, you could argue that the Irish players do miss a large amount of the season. Neil Doak (Ullster) recently said to me that ‘they pay the wages.’ You cant argue however that he has a work rate, ethos and ability beyond his peers at Munster and the other three sides, and as such is very much a team player. Whilst he may not wear the armband he will still lead the Munster squad.

  3. “As a Captain, his name does not look out of place with the likes of Richie McCaw, Martin Johnson, Michael Lynagh and Gavin Hastings”

    I completely disagree. I think hes one of the most over rated players around. I know a lot of people will disagree so i’ll try and justify this claim with a few points.

    1. He hardly ever beats southern hemisphere opposition. Those players named beat everyone.
    2. He failed to deliver on the 09 lions tour. I think his selection as tour captain was McGeechan’s biggest mistake. Alun Wyn and Simon Shaw should have been the starting lock pair with BOD as captain.
    3. I think there was only a brief part of his career when he would have been considered for a ‘world 15’. Thorn, Matfield, Botha, Martin Johnson have all been ahead of him. All those players named had long spells considered the best in the world.

    “the Irish team has achieved great things with him in the side.”

    One grand slam from “the golden generation”. I would say this is achieving what you would expect but nothing more.

    I think hes a good international player and a great club one but the players you compare him to are streaks ahead.

    1. Completely agree with you! Very good club player but always over rated internationally! And would certainly never put him in the same breath as Martin Johnson or Richie McCaw!

      That’s not to say he isn’t a good player, but Ireland need to start looking past him, and the Lions most certainly should be! He will still have a part to play at Munster but that is it.

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