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£290,000 a year for O’Connell

Paul O’Connell has put pen to paper, ensuring his towering presence in the Ireland and Munster sides for two seasons until 2014.

Yesterday's contract announcement — following on swiftly from his confirmation as stand-in captain for Brian O'Driscoll — now gives the player, who turned 32 in October, two years to re-emphasise his on-going provincial and national importance.

O'Connell's deal, factoring his impressive return to form and fitness, should be upwards of €350,000 (£290,061) per annum.

Munster coach Tony McGahan, who has been working with O'Connell since he joined the province as defence coach in 2005, said: “He is playing as well as ever, as is evident in the Heineken Cup.

“His carrying and contact areas have improved. His work and desire to improve other aspects of his game are phenomenal. There's certainly evidence he's improving his game.

“This year the way he has played and dragged us through the first four games was excellent. He sets an example to younger players.”

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Belfast Telegraph