Veteran rugby player Paul O’Connell has recently said that despite coming back from an injury, he has a goal to play until World Cup 2015. O’Connell will be filling in for captain for the Lions in the match against Australia in Hong Kong this weekend.
Speaking with TheScore.ie, O’Connell said “I have a goal to play on until the World Cup in 2015.”
However, O’Connell added, “Whether injury or form intervenes before that, you never know, but that is definitely something that will drive me over the next couple of years.”
O’Connell is cognizant about injuries. He is only recently bouncing back from a surgery that repaired a bulging disc in his back.
“When I got my back operation, I thought I was definitely out of the Lions Tour,” O’Connell admitted. “The boys did so well in getting to the quarters so I was desperate to get back and play as many games as I could at the end of the season.”
And he did. O’Connell made an impressive display at the recent Heineken Cup quarter-finals for Munster against Harlequins. London24 reports that after his performance there, O’Connell overtook Sam Warburton, Brian O’Driscoll and Chris Robshaw in the betting to reprise the captaincy role he filled with distinction in 2009.
However, O’Connell didn’t jump right back into the captain’s position. He admits he was “relieved to be involved at all” considering his injury and the time it took away from playing.
At 33 years old, O’Connell is mindful that he’ll have to start making decisions about his future in rugby shortly. Seeing former teammate Ronan O’Gara move into a coaching position has made O’Connell consider his future even more.
“Retirement is something every player thinks about when he gets into his 30s,” said O’Connell. “You have to plan and prepare for that but a lot of your thinking is influenced by injuries. I’d love to continue playing until the next Lions Tour [in 2017] but I’m not too sure that would be possible.”
"Coaching is something I’d certainly look at,” O’Connell added. “It would be great to stay involved at Munster but whatever level you end up coaching at, it’s important that you can give something back.”