One of the primary reasons behind the decision to release Irish captain Paul O’Connell from his contract was that it would hasten his return to Ireland and Munster, according to IRFU performance director David Nucifora.
Nucifora said that the decision to release O’Connell so that he could move to Toulon was prompted by a variety of reasons.
O’Connell will move to the European champions after the World Cup, having been released from an Irish contract which was not due to expire until next summer.
Nucifora, who took over his role a year ago on a five-season contract, said that several factors were taken into account in arriving at the decision.
“Paul’s scenario is quite unique. It was looked at in those unique circumstances. It was a decision made from a number of parties. Obviously Munster were integral to that and had to be happy with that scenario.
“From Paul’s point of view you have got a guy who has given so much to Irish rugby over so many years and he deserves the opportunity to be able to go off and do this for a period of time at the end of his career. He has earned that right.
“The aim is to have Paul back involved in Irish rugby sooner rather than later and hopefully he goes off, and I’m sure he will, and utilises that time to acquire more thoughts and experiences about rugby.
“And I am sure he will put that to good use hopefully for Munster and Irish rugby when he returns.”
Nucifora said that the process did not take long to work out between all the parties.
“It didn’t take a long time, it just needed a number of people to get together and talk through things and understand the situation and obviously discuss it with Paul and Munster and ourselves, and we got to a position where everyone was happy and we all thought that it was the right thing to do.
“It was important that we want Paul O’Connell to be involved in Irish rugby going forward. I think that everyone will be a winner here.”
And he discounted any notion that O’Connell might be persuaded to return if needed for the defence of the Six Nations crown next spring.
“No, it has all been locked away now as to what is happening so Paul will finish up with Ireland after the World Cup and he will go to France and play at least the rest of that season.
“I am sure he will do very well. He is the sort of guy that doesn’t go into anything half-hearted.
“So I am sure he will be working incredibly hard, he is a proud guy and I am sure he will put in very good performances for them,” added Nucifora.
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