Paul O'Connell has spoken in depth about how his move to the European champions came about. There was a great deal of rumour and counter-rumour in the final couple of months of last season.
Toulon made the initial contact with O'Connell before last Christmas. O'Connell turned them down. He said he wasn't going to play on beyond the World Cup.
Apparently, no sooner were these words out of his mouth, than he started having doubts.
At the launch of Ireland's new World Cup jersey, he ran through the sequence of events.
There was a thing in a paper in France that Pau were interested in me. I never spoke to Pau or heard anything from them but that sparked a bit of interest from some clubs in France and I got some contact from Paul Stridgeon the S&C coach in Toulon, who was on the Lions and who I would be quite friendly with.
He asked me would I be interested. I said I hadn’t really thought about it. I said, ‘give me a bit of time and I’ll get back to you’. I actually got back to him after Christmas and said, ‘look it is not for me. I am going to fully retire after the World Cup’. I was very happy with that decision.
Once I told him (Stridgeon) that there was a small bit of regret that snuck in. About a month or five weeks later I got another text message that they were about to move on another player and asked again would I be interested and to let them know.
I chatted with Emily (wife) a little bit about it. The body at the time was feeling really good. I just said to them, ‘look I would be interested but I can’t talk to a club while I am playing for Munster unfortunately, but if you are willing to wait until the summer I’ll certainly talk to you and look at doing something’. That was basically it. I went down about two weeks after the Pro12 final and agreed to join them.
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