Jones: O’Connell has one Test left

Former Australian rugby coach Eddie Jones has branded Munster legend Paul O’Connell “a fading star” with nothing more than one Test match performance left in his 33-year-old legs.

Jones, who led his native Australia to the epic 2003 World Cup final in Sydney, believes former Lions skipper O’Connell will be the British & Irish Lions’ weakest link on the forthcoming three-Test tour of Australia.

“Lock is a position where I feel the Lions are a little lacking,” Jones explained.

“The great Paul O’Connell is fading. He may have one great Test in him, but three on successive weekends will be difficult.”

Jones is more impressed with the Lions back row. Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien was a standout in Ireland’s shock 2011 World Cup victory against Australia and Jones insists the 26-year-old will have to put in a repeat performance if the Lions are to stand any chance of winning a series on Australian soil for the first time since Ian McGeechan’s team in 1989.

“The Welsh pair of captain Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau are standouts in the Lions back row,” Jones said.

“Warburton is hard on the ball and Faletau possesses a nice step not dissimilar to the great Toutai Kefu, who helped Australia to win the World Cup in 1999.

“Sean O’Brien, the Irish flanker, was massive against the Wallabies in the upset at the 2011 World Cup so I see this trio ensuring the breakdown contest is relentless.”

Jones, an admirer of Lions and Wales coach Warren Gatland, stopped short of picking a series winner but insists the three Test matches will be very close.

“The Wallabies can see the red train coming but handling it is now the challenge,” he said.

More on this topic

Gatland rescued Lions brand, now to protect itGatland rescued Lions brand, now to protect it

Gatland fires back at Jones after ruling out coaching EnglandGatland fires back at Jones after ruling out coaching England

Warren Gatland announced as Lions head coach for 2021 South Africa tourWarren Gatland announced as Lions head coach for 2021 South Africa tour

Warren Gatland to become Lions head coach for third timeWarren Gatland to become Lions head coach for third time


The Regal Cinema in Youghal, Co Cork, first opened its doors in 1936. Director John Huston used it as a base to review footage while filming Moby Dick in the town.We Show Films: ‘I once found a full rotisserie chicken in the cinema’

The biennial festival in Cork produced another unique feast of fine music and good vibes.Sounds from a Safe Harbour brings fine music and good vibes to Cork

Here are five things to check out in the week ahead.5 things for the week ahead

You have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a ship to Ireland. You are tired and hungry and desperate to deliver your expensive cargo to port.Islands of Ireland: Horse, trading, and Drishane

More From The Irish Examiner