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'He'll put the fear of god in...
Rugby

'He'll put the fear of god in every player' | Quinny on Paul O'Connell role

Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

10:30 8 Jan 2021

Alan Quinlan says his former Munster teammate Paul O'Connell will bring the "fear of god" into Irish players in a good sense, as he takes over as forwards coach in the international set-up.

The 41-year-old was this week announced in his new role effectively immediately ahead of the Six Nations, having previously coached with the Irish under-20s, Stade Francais and the Munster Academy.

Speaking on OTB AM this morning, Quinlan told Adrian and Eoin that regardless of his relative lack of coaching experience, O'Connell will be a great fit.

"He doesn't have a big CV from coaching so it's a little bit different for him. I think there's a confidence there though that... Paul has practically coached the Munster lineout for 12 years and the Irish lineout for 12 years.

"I don't think there's as much emphasis and focus on a forwards coach when you have very experienced players who understand the lineout inside out.

"The Irish team needs a little bit more guidance, experience, and real-life experience of a player being there. He needs to steer them and organise them in a better way.

"The lineout is a perfect weapon to launch an attack from. You go back to that English game, Ireland had eight lineouts - they won four and lost four. The four they won were quite sloppy.

"He'll put the fear of god in every player there that they'll know their role inside out. There will be no room for complacency... his coaching CV is very small but he's done this, he's in amongst the players which is exactly what you want to do."

Quinny used examples from his own playing career alongside O'Connell to highlight just what he will bring to the Irish lineout system.

"I'll give you an example - I walked into lineouts at Munster with Paul and both of us called lineouts together. He called full lineouts, I called the shortened lineouts.

"We had hand-signals, buzz-words and calls, and walking into a full lineout with Paul O'Connell, I actually knew most probably where he was going to call the ball, based on the opposition and what way they were defending.

"It's just bringing everyone up a level, it's actually having an ability that they really understand the lineout. Paul has a great ability to do that.

"This guy is at a different level in running a lineout, I've been there week in week out with him down in the south of France, playing with Munster, the crowd going crazy, and there's a calmness about him.

"It's a big job coaching, he'll get scrutinised very hard. If Ireland's lineout doesn't go that well in the Six Nations there'll be pressure on him, but a lot of these players will respect him as well."

And what of future head coach ambitions? Can Paul O'Connell be the man perhaps to replace Andy Farrell in the top job when the time comes? Quinlan says there's no doubting he has the ability.

"There's a big job in being a head coach and everyone acknowledges that. It's a six o'clock in the morning job to ten o'clock at night, even when you're at home you can never switch off.

"Paul gets so stuck into things that I'm sure he's probably working on Ireland lineouts already and analysing the players.

"Of course he has the ability to do that, it's depending on if he wants it. He has those natural leadership qualities. Of course it's different being a coach, you can be a great player and a great leader as a captain but you've got to understand your players.

"Giving out to guys or being hard on them can take away their little bit of confidence and they can shrink away a little bit. Other guys love it, love being challenged.

"I had fights with Paul over him shouting in the dressing room or saying different things to people - some guys are different, they just want to chill out before a game.

"Paul is a brilliant coach, a brilliant leader, and I think he'll bring these guys on to a level that they need to get to."


Read more about

Alan Quinlan IRFU Ireland Lineout Munster POC Paul O'Connell Rugby Simon Easterby

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