Rugby | 9 months ago
Paul O'Connell's story of his Lions experience makes for one hell of a story
Such passion

2005, 2009, 2013. It started so badly but ended with a real high... and a broken arm.

Paul O'Connell won't get a chance to return to New Zealand as a British & Irish Lion. A badly torn hamstring in 2015 forced his retirement, last year, and ended all wishful thoughts of him finishing his career on the 2017 Lions Tour.

The former Ireland captain is finding his feet in a coaching capacity at Munster Rugby while keeping an eye on outside business interests and dipping his toes in punditry with BBC.

Ahead of this summer's Lions Tour to New Zealand, O'Connell recollected some of memories while playing with the cream of the home unions crop. He says:

"I'd get on the tour, try and put myself in a position to play the best rugby I could because that's what the Lions need. They need guys that are playing their absolute career-best rugby and the I'd work hard at trying to make the team a team."

That's what O'Connell believes is the Lions' best chance of winning a series - form a team bond, do it quickly, and select lads playing in top, top form.

He also shares his main motivation from the 2009 tour to South Africa, which he captained. He says:

"In 2009, I think one thing I had and a few of the players had is we had a bad Lions experience [in 2005 and losing 3-0 to New Zealand].

"That old-school cliché of leaving the jersey in a better place... we had the experience were we had gone on a Lions tour and we had left it in a far worse place. When you have spent all your rugby career dreaming of playing for the Lions and that happens, it's a horrible feeling. It's a devastating feeling."


The jersey was left in a better place after the South Africa tour but the Lions still lost 2-1. Thankfully for O'Connell and the Lions, they reversed that score in 2013 despite the lock breaking his arm in the First Test.

Episode 37 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast features Sam Warburton, Garry Ringrose and Rugby World's Paul Williams.

While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!

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Lions 2017, Paul O'Connell