Former Lions, Ireland and Munster captain Paul O’Connell says that playing out his career in the south of France with Toulon may have taken it’s toll on him physically had he not been forced to retire when he did.
The Limerick man suffered what was to be a career ending hamstring injury in Ireland’s pool stage victory over France in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The warrior lock had already announced his intention to retire from international rugby after that competition and had already agreed a two-year deal with then European champions Toulon, after 14-years with Munster.
O’Connell says he was looking forward to the challenge even though he noticed after a short time spent around the club that the setup would be a far cry from that of his beloved Munster.
“I was really looking forward to that experience. I had an amazing time with Munster, I just wanted something different.”
“The environment, the way they looked after the players, the way the players looked after each other, it wasn’t a relation to what we had in Munster. I was only there a short period of time but I didn’t recognize any of the great attributes we had in Munster down there.”
Now a coach within the Ireland 20’s setup, and rugby pundit with BBC, the Young Munster man claims that being unable to begin his two-year deal with the Top 14 side has probably saved him from a life of physical issues post-retirement.
“For me from an injury point of view to go down at 35 (years old) with the injuries I’d had I think there would have been a physical price to be paid to play down there for 18 months. I think it was a blessing in disguise in some ways physically.”