MUNSTER SKIPPER PAUL O’Connell will remain with the province until at least 2014, after he today signed a new IRFU contract.
Munster coach Tony McGahan made the announcement at this morning’s media briefing ahead of the province’s Rabo Direct Pro12 meeting with Treviso on Saturday.
“All of us at Munster are delighted that Paul has agreed an extension to his contract that sees him remain with Munster for the next two seasons,” said McGahan.
“He’s our captain and his competitive instinct on the playing field coupled with his influence on the Squad environment is immeasurable.
“That Paul has been chosen to lead Ireland in the upcoming RBS Six Nations reflects on his leadership capabilities but it’s his constant desire to become a better player whilst improving those around him that makes him such a powerful and valuable member of the Munster squad,” he added.
O’Connell himself was in reflective mood after he emerged from a morning in the UL gym to meet the press.
“I’ve been lucky over the last 10 years to play with a team like Munster that has such phenomenal support and I’ve enjoyed a lot of success during that time,” he said.
“So much has changed since my first games for Munster and Ireland. Heineken Cup and Grand Slam wins, Celtic League, now of course RaboDirect PRO12, titles. Brand new stadia and having the opportunity to play with so many good players, that it was always a very easy decision to remain in my home province.
“I’m feeling really good both mentally and physically, which in part goes down to how well we are looked after here in Ireland.So I’m really looking forward to the remainder of this season and beyond. And doing all I can to help make Munster and Ireland as successful as possible.”
Ireland coach – and former Thomond Park chief - Declan Kidney too is today happy to have the deal done. “It is a very strong message when you have a player of Paul’s standing opting to continue playing in Ireland with Munster.
Paul has been a very important player and leader for both Ireland and Munster during his career and I am especially pleased that he has come back so strongly after his injury troubles.”
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
O’Connell has won two Heineken Cups, one as captain, as well as two Magners league titles and a Celtic Cup with Munster.
Elsewhere, Connacht Rugby too have signed up winger Tiernan O’Halloran and Sportsground favourite Michael Swift.