Donnacha Ryan has lined up alongside Paul O’Connell many times for both club and country and has today described the cruel end to the lock’s career as “very, very sad”.
It was devastating to see from up in the stands. He went in to poach for a ball and obviously lads came in to ruck him out, and came down over the top of him.
You could see immediately from his face that he was wincing in pain and he would only rarely do that, even at the worst of times,” said the 31-year-old
So yeah, look, it’s very, very sad. I trained with him, played with him every day of the week, he’s a fantastic role model and just to be hanging around him all the time, all the habits I’ve learned over the years.
And it’s very sad to think the final image of Paul O’Connell in an Irish jersey would be him in a wheelchair, being taken out the back of the stadium. That was very sad.”
Ryan went on to praise the Irish Captain.
He is still, and always will be, a fantastic player. He’s the best in the world, and the best compliment I could pass him is that every time I was playing with him, I was never really occupied with my opposite number.
It was more a question of trying to match the player alongside me and try to perform the same as he was. I knew that if I did, I’d be in a good place.
He’ll be sorely missed but he’s still a great mate so hopefully we’ll see him again soon.”
The media has questioned the extent of O’Connell’s injury in recent days, some suggesting this may be the end of Paul O’Connell’s career with his Toulon contract possibly in jeopardy. Donnacha Ryan has rubbished the rumours.
He’s got another two years in his career,” said Ryan.
He’s actually in incredible nick, so he could probably keep going for another five!