Former skipper Paul O’Connell becomes Ireland’s forwards coach

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined his country’s coaching team ahead of the Guinness Six Nations.

The 41-year-old, who was capped 108 times and played at four World Cups, will take on the role of forwards coach, with fellow coach Simon Easterby switching focus to defence.

O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British and Irish Lions across three tours, plus two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy (Farrell, head coach) and the rest of the coaching group,” he told the Irish Rugby Football Union website.

“It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland are scheduled to begin this year’s Six Nations against Wales in Cardiff on February 7.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, O’Connell has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and French club Stade Francais.

Paul O’Connell won 108 caps for Ireland
Paul O’Connell won 108 caps for Ireland

Head coach Farrell said: “Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him.

“He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.”