Paul O'Connell tells JOE about pre-season, what lies ahead for Munster and being coached by Jerry Flannery
Paul O'Connell spoke to us about Ireland's tour of Argentina, pre-season, being coached by Jerry Flannery and his hopes for Munster this season...
JOE headed along to the University of Limerick this week for the launch of Munster's new solar green alternate kit and we had a chance to sit down and chat to Ireland captain Paul O'Connell about all things rugby.
Munster are back in pre-season and the new management team of Anthony Foley, Ian Costello, Brian Walsh, Jerry Flannery and Mick O'Driscoll are in place and trying to get their ideas across to the players. We chatted to O'Connell about all of that as well as Ireland's tour of Argentina and his hopes for the new season.
O'Connell on... getting a good pre-season
"It makes a massive difference. Even when I look back on the years that, you know, that I played my best rugby in, they are all down to big pre-seasons.
"The second row is such a work rate position; you are trying to accumulate tackles, ball carries, rucks and you need to have that big work load done in the summer to be able to accumulate that work load in the games.
"Whenever I've had a good pre-season I've generally had a good season after it."
O'Connell on... the new management team
"I think all the appointments are brilliant appointments, but I think it’s important people realise that they’re young, they need a bit of time.
"It’s important that people are patient with the guys. I've seen the work they’re doing, I’d be fairly up to date in terms of what they’re trying to do and how they want us to play. I think they’re going to be very good."
O'Connell on... being coached by Jerry Flannery
"It’s certainly been strange to be coached by Jerry. I’m trying to keep a straight face at times, because he’s like a different person when he’s coaching. He’s meticulous in his preparation and everyone knows that.
"But it’s funny to see how focused he is, whereas for the last few years certainly, I know him from a social point of view. Even with Jerry, I probably haven’t had as much craic with him as I had in recent months. But I’m experienced enough to know that that’s the way it has to be, and he is as well."
O'Connell on... the team's style of play
"I think hopefully we’ll bring the best from the last few years, a lot of the really good things we did in the last few seasons. Some of the frustrating things we did, you’d love to see them eradicated.
"I think we just have to be a little bit more practical in how we play, in particular at certain times of the year in terms of conditions. The big thing I would have been chasing over the last two years under Rob was to have the right mixture, when to kick, when to keep it tight, when to go with width."
O'Connell on... drawing Clermont, Saracens and Sale in the new European Rugby Champions Cup
"Look, I think if we’re being honest we've probably gotten lucky draws over the last few years. This is going to be the toughest draw we've ever had. We will find out very early where we stand.
"But I think one of the big things the Irish provinces have is that we’ll have players playing for us who grew up in the province, in a club that they grew up wanting to play for. In rugby, a sport where that emotion still plays a big role, the Irish teams have an advantage."
O'Connell on... the future and the World Cup
"I’d love to go to the World Cup but it’s something you only want to do if you’re in really good shape but the game is becoming tougher and tougher. It’s going to be a really tough Autumn internationals and Six Nations, so really the World Cup for me is a long way away.
"It’s about managing my body as best I can try and be in the best shape I can for the autumn and the Six Nations and see where I go from there. I wouldn’t say there’s any long-term plans in place."
O'Connell on... what Ireland need to work on after the series in Argentina
“We turned the ball over and had to soak up a lot of pressure. Against bigger teams you struggle when you do that. You keep referring back to Leinster because they’re a reference point under Joe. One of the big things they did was always be able to go into the opponent’s 22 and score tries.
"It’s a real way to keep the foot on the throat of opposition teams and, at times, we just didn't do that in Argentina. One of the first things Joe said was that he wanted to just see gradual improvement all the time, both as individuals and as a team."
NO ALTERNATIVE: Paul O’Connell was speaking at the launch of the new Adidas Munster Rugby 2014/15 alternate kit. The new solar green jersey is available to buy from the 1st August in Life Style Sports Stores nationwide and online at www.lifestylesports.com/munster.