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Munster next stop for legend Paul O'Connell, insists Ulster's Les Kiss

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss would be amazed if retiring legend Paul O'Connell is not soon back within the Munster set-up.

The Irish rugby hero was forced to call it quits yesterday without ever taking the field for new club Toulon thanks to the serious hamstring tear he suffered during the World Cup win over France last October.

At the time, the injury ended one of the finest Test careers Ireland has known but yesterday it emerged that the outing in the Millennium Stadium would be the last of O'Connell's career.

Kiss thinks he will have a large role to play with his native province in the future.

"The man was really what they (Munster) were in the modern game," said the Australian.

"It was a privilege (to know him) and it's a big loss to rugby but I know he'll still be around the edges.

"It's the end of the road on the playing pitch for a great man and I know he'll forge something greater after playing. He'll be to Munster's advantage.

"If he just walked in and gave out the jerseys one day it would be enough, or pay him to be your kit man just to be around the place."

Kiss was O'Connell's Irish defence coach from 2009 until the end of his career and hailed the 115-times capped lock as one of the finest he has ever seen.

"Personally he's probably the greatest, if not closest to it, that I've ever worked with," he said.

"He's just an icon and a man of great substance.

"When he stood in the dressing room with the players around him he was a force of nature."

Having been inside the camp at the time of the injury which ultimately ended the former Irish and Lions captain's career, Kiss knows that having not represented the three-time European champions will be a regret for the Limerick native.

"Everyone had a huge interest to see how he would go over there," he said.

"I know he was sad as to whether it would compromise his time experiencing a new lifestyle so I really feel for him that he's had to call quits early. He's not a quitter but I believe the medical advice was that he had to move that way."

Belfast Telegraph


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