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Paul O'Connell Delivers A Suitably Blunt Response To The Great Nature Or Nurture Debate

Paul O'Connell Delivers A Suitably Blunt Response To The Great Nature Or Nurture Debate
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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Nature or nurture? It's an age old question for people wondering what it takes to become a successful professional athlete. Not for Paul O'Connell though. Speaking to the Independent's David Kelly, the Ireland captain had message for anyone who thinks they can get by on talent alone.

If you believe it's only down to talent, sure a whole load of people may as well throw their hat at it. You have to work at it.

There's nothing in O'Connell's 35 years that would suggest he believes anything different. We saw from that wonderful Three Ireland video yesterday the dedication that a young Paulie brought to the swimming pool, hoping he could be the next Mark Spitz.

That training has applied to me down the line more than anything else. The work ethic comes easy to me because I was used to it from a young age.

Swimming at least two hours a day every day meant that when Paul O'Connell turned to rugby, he was a powerfully lean man with a phenomenal work attitude. If ever a perfectionist drove the success of Irish rugby, the pair of Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll are more responsible than most for the current boom in Irish rugby that looks set to continue long after they retire.


One of the few players left that straddled the amateur and professional ethos, his professionalism is second to none for those coming through, but O'Connell manages to maintain the social aspect of the amateur game. He was one of the first to embrace stats and video analysis to drive him to become one of the best lineout operators in the world, and yet his leadership on the 2009 Lions tour showed all the hallmarks of a legendary amateur leader - Willie John McBride.

His Young Munster upbringing, and pouring over the 1997 Lions video exposed him to the ways of the amateur game, and it was under him that the Lions of 2009 bonded the way the previous tour in 2005 failed. O'Connell can mix it with the best of them professionally, but when it's time to relax, the stories of his humour are the thing of legend. We've seen glimpses of his humour on appearances in the Late Late Show.


There's a story from the 2005 Lions tour that most thought that fellow Munster second row Donncha O'Callaghan. The story goes that 2005 Lions PR Alistair Campbell had his trouser bottoms dropped in front of the entire group, and yet the perpetrator was O'Connell.

He's now mere days from his 100th cap, ironically against the side he won his first cap against; proceeding to get concussed, stayed on and scored a try that he still can't remember. It's been a long time coming to this stage, but there's no more deserving a player than Paul O'Connell.

See Also: The career of Paul O'Connell in one powerful video
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