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Paul O'Connell ready for Irish farewell

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has confirmed that his Test career will come to a close this autumn.

Attending the launch of Ireland's new World Cup jersey in Galway yesterday, the Munster legend, who will move to Toulon after the competition, said that to maintain an international career following the switch would be unfeasible.

"I just know myself, I'm looking forward to the World Cup, but this is going to be the end of my time for Ireland if I want to go to France and be able to play well for Toulon," he said.

When asked if he would even consider helping Ireland in the event of a Six Nations injury crisis next year, he replied: "That's not the way Joe (Schmidt) does things anyway. Even in the week of a Test match if you have a slight niggle on a Tuesday and can't train, he moves on without you.

"The World Cup will certainly be the end of my Ireland career."

The lock did admit that his decision to join the three-time European champions came about only after a dramatic u-turn.

Indeed after rejecting their initial advances, his move from Thomond Park to the Cote d'azur was only re-considered in the new year.

"For two years I was fairly sure I was going to retire after the World Cup," he said. "I got some contact from Paul Stridgeon who is the S&C coach at Toulon, who was on the Lions tour, to ask if I'd be interested.

"I got back to him after Christmas and said, look, it's not for me I'm going to fully retire after the World Cup. Once I told them that a small bit of regret sunk in and a month or five weeks later I got another text saying they were about to move on another player.

"I was feeling really good so I just said to them I would be interested."

Meanwhile, there was a scare for the Ireland camp in Galway as winger Simon Zebo hobbled out of training.

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