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O'Connell is tipped to be a hit by Grand Slam heroes

 

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Paul O’Connell

Paul O’Connell

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Paul O’Connell

Paul O'Connell, Ireland's new forwards coach, has been backed to make a successful impact in this year's Six Nations by two former Grand Slam-winning colleagues who know him better than most.

Declan Kidney coached O'Connell to a Slam win in 2009, while Sean O'Brien, who featured during Ireland's 2018 clean sweep, soldiered alongside the Munster man for six years in a green jersey.

And the London Irish pair are confident that O'Connell can inspire the Irish side seeking to build upon a relatively disappointing first year under Andy Farrell, as he assumes responsibility for a creaking lineout and often worryingly subdued maul.

O'Brien, who is now coached by Kidney at London Irish, said: "Paul will bring a lot in terms of his game knowledge, and especially his detail around the maul area. We haven't got much change out of that in 18 months so he will be looking at improvement there.

"It will ease pressure on Simon (Easterby), who had to cope with defence and forward duties in November. I'm looking forward to seeing how they go."

Kidney feels his former charge's uncertain beginning in the coaching ranks - he lasted just a year with Stade Francais - will arm him with the requisite humility.

"Paul will be a good addition. He will bring a lot of his experience. It's a massive honour for him and his family. Not many get to play for Ireland and also coach them as well," he said.

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