O'Connell happy to stay in red
IT has been a good week for Paul O'Connell -- a very good week.
A few short days after being confirmed as Ireland's captain for the 2012 Six Nations, O'Connell has signed a contract extension for Munster and Ireland to the end of the season 2013-2014 worth an estimated €800,000, which could rise closer to the €1million mark with performance bonuses.
"I have been lucky over the last 10 years to play with a team like Munster which has such phenomenal support and I have enjoyed a lot of success during that time," O'Connell said.
From his try-scoring debut for Ireland against Wales at the old Lansdowne Road in 2002, O'Connell has gone on to win 82 caps for his country and represent Munster on 127 occasions.
For club, he has won two Heineken Cups, one as captain, as well as two Magners League titles and a Celtic Cup.
For country, he has seen action in three Rugby World Cups in 2003, 2007 and 2011, been central to five Triple Crowns, one Six Nations Championship and Ireland's Grand Slam in 2009.
"So much has changed since my first games for Munster and Ireland, with Heineken Cup and Grand Slam wins, brand new stadiums and having the opportunity to play with so many good players, that it was always a very easy decision to remain in my home province," he added.
"I am feeling really good both mentally and physically, which in part goes down to how well we are looked after here in Ireland, so I am looking forward to the remainder of this season and beyond and doing all I can to help make Munster and Ireland as successful as possible."
He has also represented the British & Irish Lions on two tours, to New Zealand in 2006 and as captain to South Africa in 2011.
Munster coach Tony McGahan said he was delighted with O'Connell's new deal, which will see the giant lock continue to influence on-field affairs at Thomond Park.
"I'm of course delighted that Paul has agreed an extension to his contract that sees him remain with Munster for the next two seasons," he said.
"He's an integral part of the squad whose influence goes way beyond his on-field performances.
"He is a leader both on and off the field, a quality recognised by his recent appointment as Irish captain and the perfect role model."
Irish coach Declan Kidney also extended his congratulations.
"It is a very strong message when you have a player of Paul's standing opting to continue playing in Ireland with Munster," he said.
"Paul has been a very important player and leader for both Ireland and Munster and I am especially pleased that he has come back so strongly after his injury troubles."