Paul O’Connell – Munster Need A ‘Long-Term Fix’ To Sustain The Province

Long-term solution.

Paul O’Connell says Munster need to stop relying on short-term fixes and start looking at the bigger picture and invest more in their academy structure.

The former Munster, Ireland and Lions captain says he is not a fan of players moving around the provinces, something that has become much more common in recent seasons.

O’Connell says you have a far better chance of being “emotionally connected” to a team when you come up through a province as a youngster. And this according to O’Connell, gives you a better chance of success.

He says Munster’s academy might never be as good Leinster’s, but the southern province have to try something to sustain them going forward.

“I’m not a massive fan of players moving around the provinces,” O’Connell told the Irish Examiner.

“I think it’s just a short-term fix for Munster if players come here.

“We have to put in a production system underneath from the club game and from the schools game to match other provinces.”

“Maybe we won’t ever be as good as Leinster at it but we do need to try something.

“I chat to people all the time about short-term fixes, about signing players from other provinces, and signing players from other countries.

“It’s a short-term fix and we need a long-term fix that can produce talent and sustain the province going forward.

“Rugby is a very tough game. If you are emotionally connected to the team you are playing for, you have a far better chance of being successful.

“And you have a far better chance of being emotionally connected to a team you are playing for if you come up through that province and wanted to play for that team all your life.”

However, O’Connell insists Munster are not as far away from success as people may fear. He says things are exacerbated by how well Leinster have done this season. But he does feel it’s a real shame Munster were unable to capitalise on their success 10 years ago, and retain the connection they once had with the AIL clubs.

“Things are always exacerbated by how well Leinster are doing,” he added.

“I think Munster aren’t that far behind. They have been in two Champions Cup semi-finals in the last two years.

“Munster are not where they were at 10 or 15 years ago but I do think Leinster doing so well has exacerbated things.

“I don’t think we are producing the players that we used to produce.

“It’s a real shame to think that Munster were so strong in 2006 and 2008 and we didn’t capitalise on it.

“The All-Ireland League is where we produced players and it’s not producing the players it once did.

“The standard has improved but I don’t think rugby has the same connection with the clubs that we need to produce fantastic young players.

“It’s a big challenge as you have to produce serious homegrown talent and we are struggling to do that at the moment for whatever reason.”

Interestingly O’Connell is expected to leave his academy advisory role with Munster in the coming weeks. Is he fed up with trying to get through to officials at Munster about the current state of their academy?