Toulon - Ireland legend Paul O'Connell
admitted he is nervous about lining up for Toulon as he met the press on
Wednesday at his new home.
The 36-year-old has played his entire club
career with Munster until now but left at the end of last season for a new
experience in the south of France.
"It's very strange for me, I've only
ever played for Munster, I've only ever lived in Limerick: it's a big change
for me," said the lock.
O'Connell won 108 caps for Ireland before
retiring from international duty during the 2015 World Cup after suffering a
hamstring injury that needed surgery, which ended his participation in the
"I'm really looking forward to it but
I'm also really nervous."
O'Connell, who officially joined Toulon
after the World Cup was over, said he does not have a specific timeframe for
returning to action but said his leg feels better.
"It's good, it's on the mend. I've
been doing physio back in Ireland so I feel very good doing everyday
things," he added.
"I haven't started running yet but
hopefully I'll be back January-February, I'm not fully sure yet."
The former British and Irish Lions captain
said he has not wasted his time on the sidelines, though.
"It's part of the game, unfortunately
you're going to spend time injured and if you don't learn to deal with it, you
will spend a lot of your career frustrated," he said.
"It's been nice for me to spend a lot
of time with my family, get a lot of rehab done and get mentally ready for the
last big push in my career."
O'Connell was part of the winning Lions
Tour to Australia in 2013 and also toured New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa
in 2009 when he was captain.
He won three Six Nations titles with
Ireland and two European Cups with Munster, as well as the Celtic League three
The one thing O'Connell is most looking
forward to is running out at Toulon's Stade Mayol with the home fans firmly
"It's right up there with anything
I've experienced on the biggest days when Munster have played at Thomond Park.
When we played here in Mayol in 2011 we were very badly beaten but the crowd
were amazing," he said.
"The walk into the ground was
incredible, very intimidating and very motivating for the (Toulon) players.
"It was the same in Marseille two
years ago, the fans were amazing. I think they're similar to Munster fans in
that they love the team, they really get behind the team, it's a big part of
the identity of the city.
"In Limerick and Cork, Munster Rugby
plays a massive role there, it's probably one of the big things I'm looking
forward to, playing at Mayol and experiencing the crowd."