Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group
Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.
Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014. O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.
Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.
“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. 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 head coach Andy Farrell commented:
“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). 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.
“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”
IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”
One new cap named in Ireland squad for Scotland play-off.
The uncapped Ulster Rugby prop, Eric O’Sullivan, who was called up to Andy Farrell’s squad in recent weeks, is set to make his Ireland debut as he is named amongst the replacements for the Play-Off game.
Johnny Sexton returns to captain the side and is re-united with Conor Murray at half-back. Robbie Henshaw also returns to line out at inside centre with his old provincial partner Bundee Aki at outside centre.
The back three is unchanged from last weekend’s win over Georgia, with Jacob Stockdale at fullback and Keith Earls and Hugo Keenan on the wings.
Up front, Cian Healy packs down alongside Rob Herring and Andrew Porter. James Ryan and Iain Henderson continue in the second row and the back row is made up of Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Caelan Doris.
O’Sullivan is joined in the replacements by Ronan Kelleher, John Ryan, Quinn Roux and Josh van Der Flier, while Jamison Gibson Park, Ross Byrne and Chris Farrell provide the back line cover.
Kick-off at the Aviva Stadium is at 2.15pm and the game is being televised by RTÉ and Amazon Prime (UK only).
Scotland have also named their team to face Ireland this weekend:
Mixed news on injury front for Ireland ahead of Scotland game
Billy Burns’ groin injury has ruled him out of the final Guinness Series fixture of the Autumn Nations Cup.
Will Connors is proceeding through the graduated return to play protocols but the decision has been made not to target this weekend’s fixture.
Keith Earls has recovered from a back spasm that affected him during the Georgia game.
Conor Murray’s dead leg is being managed and he is expected to be available for selection.
Rob Herring’s rib issue has eased and he has returned to full training.
Ed Byrne is ruled out with an ongoing calf issue and James Lowe has also been ruled out with a groin issue.
Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw have re-joined full training with the squad.
Harry Byrne and Eric O’Sullivan will train with the squad this week.