“A master operator.”
Former British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has called on Warren Gatland to include Paul O’Connell in his coaching team.
News emerged last week about Ireland head coach Andy Farrell potentially joining the Lions coaching team mid-tour, after Ireland’s two games against Japan and the USA in July.
However, McGeechan has suggested in his column for The Telegraph that O’Connell, not Farrell, should join up with the Lions after Ireland’s two test matches are out of the way.
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“If there was one Ireland coach I would be looking at bringing in, it would not be Farrell. It would be Paul O’Connell,” McGeechan wrote.
“The lineout is the one area in which the Lions have no specialist coach and O’Connell is a master operator. We saw in the most recent Six Nations the impact he has already had on Ireland’s lineout.
“And while the Lions have very experienced operators in Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje, and while Robin McBryde can do a job, there is no doubt in my mind that O’Connell would add a huge amount.
“Paul knows what the Lions are all about. He has been on three tours as a player, was a wonderful captain in 2009 and if there was one coach I’d look to parachute in mid-tour it would be him.”
Paul O’Connell on Lions duty
O’Connell joined Andy Farrell’s coaching team with Ireland before this year’s Six Nations as a forwards coach, having previously worked with the Irish under-20s team and French Top 14 club Stade Francais.
The former Munster and Ireland lock was a lineout specialist during his playing days, and his expertise in the area has seemingly carried over into his coaching career.
Ireland’s lineout struggled at times during the Autumn Nations Cup last year, but functioned far better in this year’s Six Nations under the stewardship of O’Connell.
McGeechan’s endorsement of O’Connell is rather unsurprising seeing as he chose the Irishman to captain the Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2009, but there has no been indication that Gatland is interested in including the former Munster player in his coaching team.