After the game yesterday, Yoann Maestri headed for the Irish dressing room with his no. 5 jersey in hand. He hoped to swap shirts with a certain legendary opposing lock. Unfortunately, Paul O’Connell had already departed for the clinic.
In comments reported by the Irish Times, Maestri paid tribute to the great man.
I came into the Ireland changing room to see Paul but he had left to go to the clinic. It is bad news for the Ireland group and bad news for the World Cup because he is a great warrior, not just in this game but in so many games past.
He is a very good person, a good leader. When I fight against someone I want to win. I don’t want injury for them. Is he out of the tournament?
Rumours today suggest it is highly likely. Maestri consoled himself with the thought that they would see each other in the Top 14 next season. And he looked forward to having a drink with him after the next game.
But now he goes to Toulon so I hope to see him again in Toulouse and play against him one more time, and then take a drink with him. He is one of the great players.