The experienced South African lock Victor Matfield has described Paul O'Connell as the best player he has ever played against.
Matfield suggested that the influence of his compatriot Gert Smal had helped O'Connell become an even better lineout jumper.
I think he’s a fantastic player. He’s probably the best player I’ve played against in my career.
He’s also a student of the line-out, he puts in a lot of hours analysing, preparing and getting his whole unit ready for the weekend. It’s always tough going up against him.
In today's press conference, 37 year old Matfield was inevitably asked about Brian O'Driscoll, a man almost two years younger than he is. Matfield said he found it 'funny' (presumably meaning strange) that O'Driscoll had opted to retire a year out from the World Cup.
Brian’s been an outstanding player for Ireland. I thought it was very funny that he stopped a year before a World Cup. For me, it was all about Heyneke (Meyer) came to ask me if I think I can still make a difference come World Cup next year.