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O'Connell expected to join Toulon

Paul O'Connell is expected to complete a two-year deal to join Toulon after the World Cup, following Saturday's Guinness PRO12 final with Munster.

The talisman lock has a dual Munster and Ireland contract that runs until summer 2016, but is thought to be able to free himself from the final stages of that commitment.

The 35-year-old will line up for Munster for the final time in Saturday's PRO12 final against Glasgow at Ulster's Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

Ireland's oldest captain of all time will lead Joe Schmidt's men in the autumn World Cup in England, and is now set to head to Toulon at the completion of the tournament.

O'Connell has led Ireland to back-to-back RBS 6 Nations titles in the last two years under former Leinster coach Schmidt, and had been expected to retire entirely after the World Cup.

Despite previous denials, Toulon have been keen to recruit the Irish lineout master to boost their lock options following the retirements of Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams.

Former Ireland skipper Keith Wood backed O'Connell for a lucrative move to the three-time European champions, that would end his 14-year stint with home province Munster.

"He's a guy who loves the south of France, he got married in the south of France," Wood told Newstalk.

"He enjoys the place, he enjoys the culture.

"I know he was envious of what Jonny (Wilkinson) got out of it, not in terms of the finances.

"Of course the finances are always part of it, but it was almost like the fresh breath of energy he got back into it."

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