Paul O’Connell’s appointment as Ireland’s new forwards coach has been met with a wide spectrum of responses from the Irish public.
The former Ireland, and British and Irish Lions captain has already worked with this Ireland team before, but his new job has forced a reshuffle in the coaching team, as Simon Easterby will now focus on defence.
Ireland have obviously been quick to address an area of weakness of theirs over the autumn, the lineout. In doing so, there is no one better, or at least more popular, than their most capped lock.
His set-piece expertise will be of use, but there are other coaches in Ireland or overseas who could perhaps do a similar job. However, it is the 41-year-old’s presence that makes him such an attractive appointment to so many people, including Andy Farrell, who highlighted his leadership.
Hiring a figure with such a legacy in the green of Ireland and red of Munster was always going to be a popular decision, and so it has proven to be, with a swarm of supporters online welcoming the return of one of their greats.
But O’Connell’s ascension has also been met with caution given his relative lack of experience in coaching.
This is not on the same level as the RFU’s wildy impetuous appointment of the wholly inexperienced Martin Johnson as head coach in 2008. After all, O’Connell has experience coaching in Ireland and with Stade Francais, and has not immediately been given the top job. Nevertheless, this is still another decision based on the candidate’s credentials as a player rather than as a coach.
This is ultimately a debate that spans most sports as to whether great players naturally make great coaches.
But even when accounting for the Irishman’s rawness, there are still many that back him to succeed in his new role. He has a month to work his influence before Ireland travel to Wales to open their 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign.
I thought he was one of the greatest 2nd rows in the world with incredible leadership qualities & charisma.
But he has no experience coaching except an underage team for less then a year.
aren’t you riding a wave of nostalgia & celebrity cronyism?
asking for a friend….
— C Irwin #Unity4J (@Conor_Irwin) January 7, 2021
It’s interesting, could be a breath of fresh air or could be an inexperienced coach. No doubting his ability on the pitch but that doesn’t make him a good coach. When you see Rogs coaching path and Pocs they are markedly different,
— Peter Gaughan (@shelflife68) January 7, 2021
Unbelievable OConnoll has been sacked from every job he has had in coaching. What a total jobs for the boys in the IRFU.
— Odran OBrien (@Outhalf) January 7, 2021
Literally No coaching experience. Who else was interviewed?
— Missile Crisis (@MissileCrisis1) January 7, 2021
An interesting appointment, I think Ireland's pack were regressing last season, so a new appointment/ideas was needed. My only concern is Paulie's lack of experience in coaching, he has all the attributes to be a top coach though. https://t.co/TEHbQAvVvu
— Ruairi O'Cathain (@RoryOKane_Raz_) January 7, 2021
I'm glad even international teams dont care about if you're actually a good qualified coach just if you were a playing legend.
Being athletic strong and 6'6 definitely means you'll make a great coach. https://t.co/bHq3mWko2B
— Benjamin Sutton (@BenSuttonJackal) January 7, 2021
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