Paul O'Connell: Other provinces should try to emulate Leinster's model

Paul O'Connell: Other provinces should try to emulate Leinster's model

FORMER IRISH captain Paul O' Connell has said that Leinster's long term success in the country should be something that the other provinces should be looking to emulate. Leinster have 12 representatives that are part of Ireland's squad for the Japan game on Saturday. 

Andy Farell has also picked two Leinster-produced players in as well as the dozen from Leo Cullen’s side Munster’s Tadhg Beirne is named in the second row, Andrew Conway will play on the wing for the first test at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Connell does not see a Leinster-dominant make-up of the national team as anything more than inspiration for Connacht, Munster, and Ulster to follow with.

"I'd say every province wants to have more Irish players in their squad,” O’Connell said on Friday.

“I remember when I first came into the Munster team under Declan Kidney, we had a big goals sheet and one of the top goals was more Munster players playing for a winning Ireland.

"I'm sure it is a concern for the provinces. It makes them produce players. It makes them go and work hard on their domestic game structures, their school structures, it makes them go work hard on their academy structures to keep producing players.

"But in my time travelling around the provinces, I just see incredible work being done. I see the level of coaching now in the provinces, I think it's fantastic, and then the level of coaching underneath that in some of the academies is fantastic as well.

"From our point of view, I only found out about it yesterday when I read about it so it's not something we ever pay attention to or discuss or worry about. We just try to pick what we think is right on the day."

Leinster v Zebre - United Rugby Championship : News Photo (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

O’Connell, won 108 Ireland caps for Ireland, and will be joined by current captain and former team-mate Johnny Sexton into the centurions on Saturday with the 36-year-old starting at fly-half as rugby supporters visit the Aviva for full-capacity since February 2020.

Asked what had made Sexton different to other players over the course of the veteran’s 12-year Test career, the former Ireland captain said: “I think winning makes him want to win more.

“Winning doesn't take the edge off. He moves on from winning very quickly. Sometimes if we win badly, he almost treats it like a loss, if we don't play well, don't perform well, if we don't execute what we want to do. I think that's a big thing.

“I compare him to a Henry Shefflin or a Roy Keane, winning doesn't take the edge off him. That's the biggest thing he's brought to Irish rugby and Leinster rugby. I think that's one of the big reasons that he's had such a big influence on the teams he's been involved in.

“Some guys have big lofty goals and when they achieve them they take their foot off the gas or they allow their teams to take their foot off the gas. He just pushes harder and harder. And he has credibility with it because, despite what he may look like, he's great fun, he's great craic around the place.

“He builds relationships with people. When a guy you've built a relationship with drives you to a higher standard, you tend to react quite well to it. When I played, he was a great guy to have as a captain on the team because he didn't wait for other people to lead or he didn't look for the captain to always be on top of people. He just drove the team relentlessly himself. The way he reacts to winning is a big thing for me.”

Ireland v England - Guinness Six Nations : News Photo (Photo by Niall Carson - Pool/Getty Images)