It’s fair to say that O’Connell proved he was pretty tough on a number of occasions during his professional rugby career.
Paul O’Connell is one of the finest rugby players that Ireland has ever produced, having played a crucial role for his country, Munster and the British and Irish Lions throughout a star-studded career.
Paul O’Connell Ireland injury.
The Ireland lock suffered an injury that would see the vast majority of players leave the pitch immediately during a 2006 Six Nations game against France. But O’Connell continued through what must have been horrific pain.
“Probably the thing that jumps out at me is back in 2006 when we were playing in Paris,” O’Sullivan said.
“We started the game horrendously. We were all over the place. I think – oh God – it must have been 30 points down at half time. We were taking water like we were drowning out there.
“We went out in the second half and we steadied the ship. We were coming back into the game and maybe 10 minutes into the second half he was taken off the side of a ruck by a French player and he separated his AC joint which is his collarbone and his collarbone popped up.
“It was, I suppose, half an inch after popping up, almost breaking through the skin.”
‘For most mortals, the pain of that is excruciating.’
Ireland were unable to claw their way back to victory, but remarkably, Paul O’Connell saw out the rest of the game in Paris despite his dislocated collarbone.
“For most people, most mortals, the pain of that is excruciating. Like you would have been reeled ashore; an ice-pack and sit him down.
“He played on, he never broke stride, he ran through it. To me, I just couldn’t get my head around how he went through the pain barrier for 30 minutes in Paris. We came back and we scared the hell out of the French and nearly won the game.
“His contribution in the second half was extraordinary – by any standards – when you consider he had a separated AC joint as he was doing it, to me that was just incredible,” O’Sullivan explained.
Ireland lost the game by just 12 points in the end, having been trailing by 40 points with just over a half an hour remaining.
France went on to win the Six Nations that year, but Ireland did clinch the Triple Crown by beating England in the final round, thanks to a last-minute try from Shane Horgan at Twickenham Stadium.